Archive item

Title: Letter from Annamária Szalai, President of the Hungarian Media and Infocommunications Authority, to Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of Article 19, of 4 October 2011
Other/original title:
Publisher: Article 19
Files: Letter from Szalai to Callamard 041011.pdf
Abstract: In this letter of 4 October 2011, Media Authority President and Media Council chairperson Annamaria Szalai responds to concerns expressed by Article 19. The international freedom of expression organisation had argued that the political composition of the Media Council and the expansive powers it wields under the new media laws had prompted "a biased and apparently arbitrary decision" to change the licensing rules for a frequency currently used by oppositional radio station Klubradio, lessening its chances of keeping it. In her response, Szalai "firmly rejects" the "unfounded accusations," arguing that they "can be attributed solely to the lack of accurate information". Instead, she presents "the real facts": The "more pronounced consideration" of music shows in the evaluation of tenders for the frequency, which disadvantages a news station focused on national politics like Klubradio, "was requested by media service providers in previous forums". Public-information programming will, however, still be evaluated positively, since the tender calls for a station which also features "local information and values". Regarding another frequency which Klubradio was awarded by the Media Authority's predecessor but which the new regulator has refused to sign off on, Szalai argues that "an important principle of the utilization of radio frequencies for decades has been that a service provider could not have simultaneously more than one license in the same reception area," and therefore the Authority could not sign the contract for this new frequency unless Klubradio first terminated its current frequency. The Media Council will select an applicant for Klubradio's current frequency without "any unjustified distinction, exclusion or restriction", Szalai concludes, and should Klubradio fail to win the tender, it could compete for another frequency that will soon be tendered.
Publication/ adoption date: 2011-10-04
Language: English
Rights: Article 19. Permission for reproducing the document granted by email.