Hungarian radio station targeted by Orban wins compensation

AP News
Posted: Jun 07, 2016 1:34 PM

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A Hungarian appeals court awarded nearly $400,000 in compensation on Tuesday to an opposition radio station that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government tried to push off the airwaves after it returned to power in 2010.

The Budapest Appeals Court said that Klubradio must be reimbursed for license fees it paid in 2010-2013 after it was blocked from using a frequency free of charge and because of remarks by media authority officials that damaged its reputation.

The court also ordered a new, first-instance procedure in another claim by the broadcaster, seeking 1.3 billion forints ($4.7 million) from the media authority for lost revenues.

While the court's ruling is binding, the media authority said it was "considering the possibility of extraordinary legal remedies," while highlighting that the "essential part of the case" was still pending.

Klubradio managing director Andras Arato said the verdict was the result of the "stubbornness and perseverance" of the station, which won numerous lawsuits against the media authority before securing a long-term license in early 2014.

"It's very important to stress that this ruling is fair and respects the rule of law," Arato said, also noting that the station had no public advertising.

The government has been increasingly using its resources to help build a supportive, mostly unquestioning network of media outlets benefiting from sumptuous advertising spending by the growing number of state-owned companies and public institutions.

The government's campaign against Klubradio was considered one of the most tangible effects of a much-criticized media law, later partially amended in response to European Union objections.