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Tag: Media Council

Klubrádió Won’t Get its Radio Frequency Back

The Media Council has issued a decision on the right to use the 92.9 MHz frequency, which will not be returned to Klubrádió, the media authority told Telex. Klubrádió operated on 92.9 between 2014-2021, but the Media Council, made up exclusively of Fidesz delegates, did not extend the radio station’s frequency license last year.

The authority then gave the frequency temporarily to Spirit FM, which has ties with ATV, and later issued a tender for the license.

Although both Klubrádió and Spirit FM applied for the tender, the media authority awarded the frequency to the latter, claiming that it repeats its programs less frequently. This means that Spirit FM will remain on the 92.9 frequency for the next ten years.

Klubrádió has moved its programs online since it lost its frequency license, and will apparently continue its programming on klubradio.hu. But this makes it harder for the station to reach older listeners, as well as those who prefer to listen to traditional radio in the car.

Klubrádió has never hid its ideological leanings, and it is widely suspected that the station lost its frequency license for political reasons, as the all-Fidesz Media Council was likely not enamored of its openly opposition-oriented outlook. [Telex]

IPI: Media Council is Trying to “Silence” Tilos Rádió

The International Press Institute has expressed serious concerns about the decision by Hungary’s Media Council to revoke the frequency license for Tilos Rádió.

According to the organization, which advises the United Nations, UNESCO, and the Council of Europe:

Our organisations are concerned that this decision appears to be yet another disproportionate move by the Media Council, whose members were all nominated and appointed solely by the ruling party, which will force another independent voice off the country’s airwaves and further weaken media pluralism.

The group notes that the campaign against Tilos has an earlier precedent, as “the ruling bears clear parallels by the discriminatory decision last year to force the country’s last remaining major independent radio broadcaster Klubrádió off the airwaves.”

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority’s (NMHH) Media Council chose not to extend Tilos Rádió’s licence in April, citing certain violations.

Tilos, meaning “Forbidden,” has been broadcasting in Budapest for decades, first as a pirate radio station and later as the first non-profit independent radio station in Hungary. The station has been on the 90.3 MHz frequency since 2015, where it offers occasional government-critical commentary.

Station director Gábor Csabai told HVG that they had written the “world’s best tender,” but if “the media authorities still find something wrong with it, we’ll continue on the internet, as Klubrádió has done.” [HVG]

State-run media reporting objectively on the war, says Media Council

picture of György Nógrádi

Hungary’s national television channels have been objectively reporting on the war in Ukraine, according to the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH).

At its most recent meeting, the NMHH’s Media Council adopted a study claiming that programs on state-run M1, as well as ATV, Hír TV, TV2 and RTL Klub have “illustrated several positions objectively with the help of experts, and reported on the war next-door to Hungary in a way that processed the complexity of the situation.”

The board examined TV channels in the first week of March, during which time “Russian (or even Ukrainian) war propaganda did not appear in the programs that were sampled.”

However, the earlier media appearances of György Nógrádi (pictured, left) and Georg Spöttle on public television in late February were not examined.

On the second day of the Russian invasion, for example, Spöttle analyzed how Russian soldiers marched calmly, almost professionally into Ukraine, and called it a dangerous solution for Volodymyr Zelenskyy to call on his citizens to arm themselves, comparing the Ukrainian President to Hitler at the end of World War II.

Nógrádi, meanwhile, stated that Putin simply wanted a “pro-Ukrainian government” in power for once, and also made the claim that Ukraine had started the war.

Since February 24, the Media Council has received a total of nine complaints about how the war had been portrayed. The authority rejected these without any substantive investigation, as the complaints “cannot be considered balanced.”

Submissions have generally complained about the reports, but the request for balance must include the specific media segment being objected to, and a relevant position that substantially differs from the information provided. The applicants also did not indicate in their submissions if they had previously complained to the media service provider, although current regulations require that any objections be addressed to them first.

-the authority wrote in a statement.

[444]

RTL Klub to fight Media Council decision over banning LGBTQ “Rainbow Families” ad

picture from Rainbow Families PSA

The National Media and Communications Authority’s Media Council ruled the earlier in the week that a PSA produced by the Background Society showing same-sex “rainbow families” ran afoul of the law. The media board, composed exclusively of members from the ruling Fidesz party, found that RTL Klub aired “Family is Family” at an inappropriate time on 11 occasions in December 2020.

In the Media Council’s opinion:

Because it is hard for children to interpret reconciling child raising as done by the same-sex couples in the advertisement together with [the concept of] family, these may only be broadcast between 9:00pm and 5:00am, while the channel showed them between the times of 6:00am and 8:00pm.

In response to the ruling, RTL stated:

RTL Hungary does not agree with the decision and reasoning of the Media Council, and will challenge the decision in court.

[444]

Ad featuring LGBTQ families cannot be shown before 9pm, says all-Fidesz Media Council

picture of family is family ad

The National Media and Communications Authority’s Media Council, composed only of members from ruling party Fidesz, ruled this week that a public service announcement by TV station RTL Klub and the Background Society featuring LGBTQ “rainbow families” had violated the law. The Media Council stated that the “Family is Family” PSA was broadcast on RTL Klub 11 times in December 2020 at an inappropriate time.

Although the Fidesz-dominated board acknowledges that “such announcements do not need to have an age-restriction classification,” they can only be shown at a time of day “when, if classified according to their content, it would be appropriate for them [to be shown],” in accordance with Hungary’s current rating system.

Because it is hard for children to interpret reconciling child raising as done by the same-sex couples in the advertisement together with [the concept of] family, these may only be broadcast between 9:00pm and 5:00am, while the channel showed them between the times of 6:00am and 8:00pm.

-wrote the Council in its statement on the issue.

[UPDATE: RTL is fighting the decision]

The offending five-minute PSA is here, with English subtitles:

Last summer, the Hungarian Parliament passed amendments to a law that banned children under 18 from accessing advertisements that “depict sexuality for its own purposes, or promote and display self-identification that deviates from one’s birth gender, the changing of genders, or homosexuality.”

Media Council approves of calling LGBTQ activitists “terrorists”

In a separate decision, the Media Council determined that Catholic priest Zoltán Osztie’s claim that “people in the LGBTQ lobby” were “terrorists” was neither marginalizing nor hateful.

The priest was quoted in Vasarnap.hu, the media outlet for the Christian Democratic (KDNP) party, saying that “people in the LGBTQ lobby are terrorists. They inflict violence on children.”

An NGO subsequently lodged a complaint over the statement, but Hungary’s media authority has now determined that:

In line with the official position and teaching of the Catholic Church, the priest expressed strong criticism opposing activists who promote LGBTQ ideology, but his statement was neither marginalizing nor hateful. The board affirms that the criticism expressed by the parish priest is considered as a political opinion, and thus among statements that are the most protected by freedom of speech. Furthermore, the freedom of expresion also covers statements that are contrary to the spirit and mindset of individual communities. On this basis, the board is not inititating a procedure against the media provider.

[444]

András Koltay elected to head Media Council until 2030

picture of András Koltay

Among more than thirty items on the agenda for Parliament in its last session of the year yesterday, the National Assembly elected lawyer András Koltay (pictured) as Chair of the Media Council. The current rector of the National University of Public Administration (NKE) received 134 votes in favor of the nomination, with 5 against and 1 abstention.

Koltay was nominated by Viktor Orbán to head the media oversight body after former Chair Mónika Karas resigned from the position last month.

Karas’ term would have otherwise expired in September 2022, after the Hungarian general election in April. But her resignation opened up the possibility for the current government to appoint a successor to serve for the next nine years, until 2030. President János Áder subsequently appointed Koltay as Chair of the National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) on December 1, also replacing Karas in the role, and Parliament has now elected him Chair of the Media Council in addition to his role as the head of NMHH.

Under Karas’ leadership, according to Telex, the NMHH and Media Council avoided taking strong stands on media issues that the government might consider unpleasant, and had assisted with silencing opposition media voices. One example of this, notes the news source, is withdrawing the 92.9 FM frequency from government-critical radio station Klubrádió in February and awarding it to Retró Rádió, a station owned by the pro-government KESMA holding company.

According to his biography published on the NMHH website, András Koltay is a professor at the NKE and the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, has published more than 250 scientific articles in Hungarian and foreign publications, and is the editor of two legal journals. His main areas of research are related to freedom of expression, media law, and individual rights.

From 2010 to 2019, Koltay was a member of the Media Council of the National Media and Communications Authority, and since 2018 he has been rector of the National University of Public Administration.

[Telex]