The Supreme Court acting as second instance court rejected the appeal of Klubrádió regarding the case in which it requested the annulment of the decision of the Media Council refusing extension of the media service licence at the Budapest 92.9 MHz frequency.
The highest judicial forum, just like the first instance court, left most of the arguments presented by Klubrádió as well as the facts out of consideration. The ruling was based solely on the legal regulation that in case of repeated delay in compulsory data provision the law rules out, meaning making impossible, the renewal of the media service provision licence. The court did not study on its merits if Klubrádió actually infringed the law at all, and did not consider the fact that despite late data provisions or other, more serious infringements, a number of other stations broadcast their programmes having obtained renewed media service licences. This latter fact makes it clear that the law does not exclude renewal of the licence in such cases, or if it did, Media Council practice overrules it, at least regarding the “friendly” media. This action of the authorities can hardly be called lawful. The rulings brought on this case and the world of court rooms created a kind of alternative reality compared to the real life one can experience when switching the radio on.
Extension of the media service licence is not based on a single media law by far, but the still existing guarantee rules of the Hungarian legal system, and as a matter of fact even the European Union Directive provides that for the sake of diversity of the press, when granting, renewing or extending frequency licences, decisions are to be made in transparent, proportional and discrimination free procedures. The procedure of the Media Council already approved by the highest judicial forum infringe both the Hungarian constitutional order stipulating words of freedom of press, and the relevant European Union Directive. Last week, the European Commission ruled that the European Union Directive must be taken into account regarding the case of Klubrádió’s frequency, which was infringed by the Media Council by bringing a disproportionate and discriminative ruling. The Supreme Court was not willing even to consider this, citing that the demonstration procedure was already completed, and therefore it did not make any difference any more what Klubrádió was saying or what the European Commission was saying.
On the 14 February, 2021, the media service providing licence on the 92.9 MHz frequency expired, and for lack of any other legal remedy forums, it will certainly not be renewed. Klubrádió continues to provide its services to its listeners with unchanged content via the Internet; it was not silenced despite the clear intention of the Government, and continues to work thanks to the love and persevering support of its audience.
Today’s ruling of the Supreme Court is, nevertheless, a milestone in the history of Hungarian justice; it became clear that not only legislation, but jurisdiction too, stands to serve the interests of those on power, turning openly against the clearly drafted legal position of the European Commission as well as against the sense and the essence of the relevant European Union legal provisions, including the obligation of the Member State to guarantee freedom of the press.