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Vicsek Ferenc

Klubrádió’s fight for free speech

Freedom of speech is not protected by the EU. Klubrádió could be the first of many radio stations fighting laws designed to silence government opposition.

The Hungarian radio station Klubrádió have lost important licenses in Hungary after the government passed a new media law. The new law favours the ruling political power, where the country’s prime minister Viktor Orbán is also a powerful media owner. Orbán blames what he calls “leftist media” for losing him an election back in 2002.

The law, effectively legislating the news/talk-formatted Klubrádió out of existence, is enforced by a government appointed media authority. The opposition in the country accused the Orbán government of censorship, and Thursday’s session at Radiodays presented the modern day case of David and Goliath.

On Wednesday this week an appeal court overturned the decision to hand Klubrádió’s license to another station. But this comes only as a bitter sweet victory for station manager Vicsek Ferenc.

“Even if we could get back our license we would not be able to afford to use it”, he said to the packed auditorium.

Ferenc went on to explain how the government is key in allowing a radio station to generate revenue by buying airtime for public information campaigns. This privilege would not be awarded to an opposition radio station.

The well attended session were given a warning by Ferenc.

“This could happen in any country in the EU”.

In her presentation Amy Brouillet highlighted the less than favourable conditions for media in other European countries, such as France and Italy. But other countries are moving in the same direction as Hungary.

“At the moment the Polish government are considering a similar media law”, she said during the Q&A part of the session, in reply to a question if this could be reality in other countries in the EU.

There are no European law that protect the freedom of speech, and if there was such a law it would be a question on how to police it. The plight of Klubrádió was eagerly discussed on Twitter during the session, with many expressing their support for the radio station and its ongoing fight against the Orbán-government.