The decision by Hungary's Media Council to withdraw the frequency of Klubradio, the country's only opposition radio station, cannot be examined in isolation from the wider debate on freedom and pluralism of the media in Hungary, announced Ryan Heath, spokesman for Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, on 4 January.

On 20 December 2011, the Media Council decided to allocate the frequency used until now by Klubradio to an unknown station, Autoradio, from the end of March 2012.

As Heath pointed out, under EU law - Directive 2002/20/EC on authorisation of electronic communications, amended in 2009 - a member state government is free to impose general interest conditions when issuing radio licences. Such conditions can include cultural and language diversity as well as media pluralism, if rights of use are granted "through open, transparent and non-discriminatory procedures," states Article 5 of the directive. Parties must also have the right to appeal radio licensing decisions in court, and not just before Hungary's Media Council.

The Commission is remaining cautious in its comments for now, since there is no proof that the decision is not in line with Article 5, but it makes no secret of its scepticism. The Union sets no limits on the number of licences a government can issue, explained Heath. He added that, for the sake of competition, Commissioner Kroes encourages "the Hungarian government to...

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