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KlubRadio, Budapest gets support in fight for survival



Klubrádio, an opposition station in Budapest, is fighting for media freedom.  Editor Vicsek Ferenc gets support from demonstrations and EU`s Neelie Kroes. 

Editor or muted?
Will Vicsek Ferenc still be editor-in-chief at Klubrádio when he comes to Radiodays Europe in March?  Or will his station have been shut down - and the voices of the Hungarian opposition have been silenced?  In some weeks we will know.

No airwaves for opposition
The rightwing Hungarian goverment wants control over the national media.  They are now in the process of closing down Klubrádio - a talk/news channel which has often acted as an unofficial opposition in Hungary.  The station is immensely popular in Budapest, especially after purges of independent-minded journalists at the state broadcast media. But it will soon be forced off the air in the capital; its frequency has been handed to an obscure rival that submitted a higher bid and that plans to broadcast music rather than talk.

No money without media freedom?
So, what will happen?  The Budapest correspondent of the Economist predicts that the station will be saved.  Why?  Because Hungary is under strong pressure from the EU.  The country needs great loans from the International Monetary Fund to manage its financial crisis - and the EU commissioner for media, Neelie Kroes, has engaged herself for pluralism and media freedom.  Hungary needs more media, not less, she says - with reference to Klubrádio.  "No IMF deal will be contingent on the fate of Klubrádio", he says.  "But the station's uncertain future is certainly not helping Hungary's cause".

A fighting story
Whatever happens - Ferenc Vicsek will have an interesting story to tell us about how radio can play an important and sometimes decisive role in a country's cultural and political life.