Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission has called on the Hungarian government to allow the opposition Klubrádió to continue broadcasting, Reuters reported on Saturday.
The Hungarian Media Council decided against renewing the broadcaster’s licence, pointing to regulatory offences, and Klubrádió lost its appeal against the move on Tuesday.
The Klubrádió, which has been broadcasting for 19 years and is often critical of the Hungarian government, could be forced off air from Sunday.
This comes against a backdrop of criticism of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán by international groups and within the EU bloc for autocratic behaviour, which has led the EU to investigate Hungary’s perceived violations of rule of law principles.
Critics warn that Orbán is undermining the freedom of the media as well as exerting pressure on courts, NGOs and academics. In 2019, the European People’s Party suspended Orbán’s party Fidesz because of concerns about respect for the rule of law in Hungary.
EC official’s letter
In a letter on Friday, the EC’s Director General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology, Roberto Viola at the EC, called on the Hungarian Ambassador to the EU, Tibor Stelbaczky, to intervene.
“I request you to ensure that the current use of this spectrum can continue in the interim period until final decisions on the rejection of the renewal request and on any new assignment become legally binding,” Viola wrote.
He called on the Hungarian authorities to “take urgent action, pending the ongoing court proceedings and final decisions on the rights of the use of spectrum” and to make sure that “requirements of EU law are respected while avoiding irreparable damage to the current holder of the frequency.”
The letter warns the radio could lose its broadcasting licence “on the basis of highly questionable legal grounds” and stresses the importance of protecting the right to freedom of expression.
According to an unnamed spokeswoman of the Hungarian embassy to the EU, the letter has been forwarded to Hungarian authorities for response.