AER has today written to the Hungarian Media Council to protest alleged irregularities in talk radio licensing procedure.
The letter states that the recent appeared prioritisation for musical radio offerings in place of talk radio stations risks to significantly reduce the amount of debates on air in Budapest and in the rest of Hungary, hindering media pluralism.
Alfonso Ruiz de Assín, AER President, indeed recalls that the EU 2009 Telecom Package underlines that “Measures taken by Member States regarding end-users access̓ to, or use of, services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law”.
Radio frequencies are electronic communications networks and constitute a public good that has an essential social, cultural and economic value. An independent and lawful procedure is key for granting the freedom of expression and media pluralism. Talk radio specifically is an important part of a full spectrum of media offerings which give citizens a voice.
Recent and ongoing renewal of radio broadcasting licences in Budapest and in Hungary showed concerning irregularities, including:
– Delays in the publication of information on the conditions to apply for licences
– Modification of the conditions of use of the licence – disabling access for talk radio in favor of music content in Budapest, a key area in the country
– Lack of transparency in the awarding of the related licence (e.g. project plan, financial situation) and on the grounds of refusing the renewal of the licence
– Inequality in the setting of application conditions for the awarding of licences enabling expansion of the reception area surrounding Budapest
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