Klubrádió has been the last radio that did not belong to the Orbánist media stable. It has been shut down.
It started last summer when Orbán’s loyalists scored a decisive victory against the most important news portal of the country, filling it up with loyalists. After the heady triumph, they immediately launched an attack on the owner of privately owned 24.hu, the next biggest online news portal that wasn’t theirs yet, and Klubrádió, the last critical radio channel.
Klubrádió was not Orbánist, even though it had an odd ownership lately. It has been in the crosshairs of authorities ver since Orbán came back into power in 2010, and lost its regional frequencies in 2011. The authorities also wanted to shut them up in Budapest (despite several court rulings in Klubrádió’s favor), but eventually granted a 7-year license in 2013. It has expired in 2020 and that was their cue to end it.
Depending on when you looked at the story, the end days of the channel have either been hopeful or hopeless. If you listened to Orbánists’ version (and why wouldn’t you, they wear nice suits and have the money to impress) Klubrádió was shutting down itself, was illegal, ate babies or some such thing. If you ask non-Orbánists, it was just boring, being the last platform for anti-Orbán sentiment. Plus, it was a radio. Not exactly a youthful thing.
But nothing is allowed to stay. After all, our overlords are learning from each other how to shut down the internet (screw those who taught politicians where the internets are so they can put down their borders on it) so an old-fashioned radio channel must surely be shut down, even though it was limited to Budapest in its last days.
So a few days after they shut down digital radio technology (because the new technology didn’t allow outright state control by the distribution of frequencies) the authorities announced that Klubrádió’s license to broadcast will not be renewed. It happened last September, the radio shut down this week. It had moved to the internet, but good luck with that.
Several foreign departments and numerous international media outlets reacted to the case, including Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, who wrote in a statement: “We are deeply concerned about declining media pluralism in Hungary. The imminent loss of the broadcasting license of one of the country’s most popular radio stations, Klubradio, threatens the departure of yet another independent voice from Hungary’s airwaves… The United States believes that a diversity of independent voices and opinions is essential to democracy, and we urge the Government of Hungary to promote an open media environment.”
If only hey were in charge when index.hu was Orbanized a few months earlier, we would have… another concerned statement from the US.
This is just the latest move against the remnants of independent media. We are down to a few websites, and 24.hu is next to be Orbanized. Attacks on its owner have started last summer.