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Hungary Court Scraps Decision on Opposition Radio License

A Hungarian court overruled a decision by the country’s media authority to award the frequency of opposition radio station Klubradio to another company.

A Budapest court ordered the media authority to start a new procedure, according to an audio recording of the ruling posted on Budapest-based Klubradio’s website today.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban drew international criticism last year for passing a media law that critics said would curb press freedom and for setting up a media authority led exclusively by ruling party appointees.

The European Commission has blocked Hungary’s request for financial assistance on concerns ranging from the independence of the central bank to the judiciary. Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said on Jan. 24 she is “worried about media pluralism and media freedom in Hungary.”

The bid submitted by the tender’s winner, Autoradio Kft., didn’t comply with tender regulations, the court said, according to MTI state news service. Klubradio, which placed second, should now be declared the winner, its Chief Executive Officer Andras Arato said on the station today.

The court’s decision, which can’t be appealed, “probably makes the validity of other radio tenders doubtful,” the media authority said in a statement today, without elaborating.

Klubradio should have already been assigned another frequency it was awarded in 2010, which the new media authority refused to approve, Nepszabadsag reported on Feb. 28, citing a first-instance court ruling which confirmed Klubradio’s contract for the other frequency.

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