A zebra head on an upturned yellow square. This logo, which looks like a road sign, is that of Klubradio. Last independent station in Hungary, but not for much longer. Sunday February 14, she will have lost her license and will stop broadcasting. “Klubradio is rather critical of the government of Viktor Orban and known for his free and humorous tone”, explains Pavol Szalai, head of the Balkans office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The generalist branch deals with political as well as social and cultural subjects.
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Attempts to cut the antenna on independent radio are not new. Since 2014, Klubradio has only one frequency throughout the country, in the capital Budapest. In September 2020, the Media Council refused to renew the station’s license. “A sanction imposed on the radio for failing to inform the authority on musical quotas”, says Pavol Szalai. A “Administrative pretext, according to him. The supposedly independent Media Council is under strong political influence. “ Klubradio then challenges the decision. The appeal is dismissed by the Budapest court on Tuesday February 9.
Threats to the freedom to inform
“Klubradio’s example is typical of the way Orban muzzles the media”, argues Pavol Szalai. In RSF’s latest world press freedom ranking, the European Union country was ranked 89e position. “If journalists are not killed or imprisoned, they face political and economic pressure, explains the head of the NGO. The government places announcements of SOEs in media favorable to them. And since there isn’t a great tradition of subscription in Hungary, the media rely heavily on advertising. “
With this economic model « fragile », few independent bodies remain in Hungary. “Today there is a TV channel, small newspapers and websites. Last summer, the government dismantled the Index news site and journalists created a new site. “ For independent radio, a final appeal was filed with the Supreme Court, announced Andras Arato, its manager, questioned by AFP. It could also win the tender and regain its frequency. Until then and far from the airwaves, Klubradio continues to broadcast online.