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Hungarian Watchdog Takes Away Frequency From Opposition Radio

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Hungary’s national media council reassigned three radio frequencies, taking one of them from the country’s largest opposition radio station, Klubradio.

The station’s frequency was awarded to Autoradio Musorszolgaltato Kft., which bid “significantly above” the asking price and promised to broadcast more Hungarian music, the watchdog said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

The media council’s decision is a “de facto ban” of Klubradio and a “public fraud,” Andras Arato, the station’s chairman, said in an interview today. The result of the tender is legally questionable as the frequency was awarded to a company with capital of 1 million forint ($4,370), while the tender called for a “realistic” business plan, Arato said.

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban drew international criticism this year for passing a media law that critics said would curb press freedom. Hungary’s Constitutional Court vetoed parts of the law this week, saying the bill “unconstitutionally limited freedom of the written press.”

The media council is made up of appointees of Orban’s Fidesz party, which has a two-thirds majority in parliament.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edith Balazs in Budapest at ebalazs1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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