Leading Hungarian radio networks lose licences
October 28th, 2009 - 14:10 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

Hungary’s national body in charge of awarding frequencies, ORTT, has rejected bids by incumbent pop-music stations Slager Radio and Danubius Radio to operate for the next seven years, ORTT announced today. It has awarded the two key frequencies to a consortium called FM1 and to Advenio Zrt, it said. The decision was unanimous, but the delegate of the liberal opposition Free Democrats did not participate in the vote.

Chairman of the ORTT Laszlo Majtenyi, of the ruling Socialist party, said he did not support Advenio and FM1’s bids and would have favoured their rejection on formal grounds as well as for what he insisted were weak business and financial plans. The chairman cannot vote according to ORTT rules. He added that the liberal member Janos Timar shared his view and declined to participate in the vote.

“I don’t think the case is closed; I think this is just the start of a scandal,” Majtenyi told MTI, adding that the winners can be sued for the rights to the frequencies.

Managing director of Juventus Radio Endre Laczko described the ORTT’s decision as “pathetic” and said it lacked any professional reasoning. There will be a vacuum left after the two large stations that have been systematically developed in 12 years, he added.

Slager Radio said on its homepage that it would use all legal means to stay on the air and said it would sue the body. “A political decision has been made, which means that Hungary’s democracy and press freedom has suffered a serious blow,” the station’s owner said.