NMHH has published the frequency plan for the Budapest 92.9 MHz radio media service option

Published: 20 September 2020

Over the past few days, a number of media services have reported that due to a legal exclusion, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) did not renew Klubrádió’s entitlement for the Budapest 92.9 MHz frequency. These reports sometimes contained inaccurate information, therefore it is important for the NMHH to clarify the following issues.

The Media Act clearly states that the “repeated” infringement of a media service provider excludes the possibility of the Media Council extending their entitlement at their request without a tender. By failing to comply with their data provision obligation, Klubrádió violated the same statutory requirement twice within 365 days. Pursuant to the legislation, this constitutes a “repeated” infringement. Establishing the repeated nature does not depend on the sanctions—the lenient or greater penalties—imposed by the Media Council. Actually, this rule has remained in effect in unchanged form since the Act of 1996 on Radio and Television Broadcasting.  Therefore, the Act grants no discretionary powers to the Media Council—if the radio was operated with infringements, this excludes the possibility of a favourable assessment of the extension request.

The Media Council did not “strip” Klubrádió of its frequency as the frequency suitable for radio broadcasts is not owned by the radio stations and—as a limited resource—is instead awarded through tenders for a duration specified by legislation.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Hungarian Media Act, a tender allows a single frequency to be used for six years (or ten years, pursuant to the new rules amended in 2019). If the media service provider operates the service in observance of the legislations and regulations during this six-year period, they have the advantage of forgoing the submission of a new tender and continuing to broadcast for a further five years (or seven years, pursuant to the new rules amended in 2019) on the same frequency.

In the case of repeated or severe infringements this “allowance” cannot be applied, yet the radio is not prohibited from submitting a successful tender and continuing to broadcast on the same frequency or submitting a bid for another frequency. In order to ensure the continuous operation of the 92.9 MHz frequency in Budapest, the Media Council has begun the preparations of the tender procedure for the utilization of the frequency. Despite their repeated violation of the law, the service provider of Klubrádió as the current entitled party will have the opportunity of submitting a bid during the tendering process. The intention of the Media Council is for a community radio service to continuously operate on the 92.9 MHz frequency of Budapest.

In accordance with this objective, the Office of the NMHH has published the frequency plan for the Budapest 92.9 MHz radio media service opportunity on its website.

Despite the litigation with the Media Council, in 2013, Klubrádió began its seven-year broadcasting period on the Budapest 95.3 MHz commercial frequency (i.e. one which requires the payment of a media service provision fee). Their continuous operation was ensured by temporary contracts in the preceding transitional period.

As a conclusion of the legal disputes, in 2014, the Media Council entered into a contract with Klubrádió for the “community” use of the Budapest 92.9 MHz frequency, which does not require the payment of a media service provision fee, for seven years. This contract was also concluded by the Media Council for a period of seven years, yet due to a definitive court ruling, the Media Council reimbursed the HUF 103 million worth of media service provision fees paid during the period of 2011 to 2014. Thus, as opposed to all other media service providers, Klubrádió broadcast its “community” programmes for ten instead of the usual seven years, from 2011 to 2021, without the payment of any media service provision fees or a new tender. The procedure of the Media Council, which provided allowances other than those provided to any other radio, is not indicative of the intention to silence Klubrádió.

The Media Council also provided Klubrádió with financial support—along with countless other radios: in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, it won over HUF 12.8 million worth of grants for the production of news programmes and technical developments through the Media Council’s seven professional tenders supporting media service providers. In all cases, the decisions of the board were made based on the proposals of an independent evaluation committee.

It is not an isolated case that the Media Council (MT) did not renew the entitlement of a radio station due to legal exclusion. Similar cases in recent years include the following:

  Media service providerCoverage areaID # of MT decision on the denial of renewalOther
1 Advenio Műsorszolgáltató Zrt. Class Fm national coverage 956/2016 (VIII. 1.) re-tendered by the Media Council with a bid submitted by Advenio Zrt., currently Retro Rádió is broadcasting on the frequency 
2 FM 4 Rádió Kft. Veszprém 95.1 MHz 7/2018 (I. 9.) re-tendered by the Media Council, with FM 4 Rádió Kft. (Mária Rádió) broadcasting on the frequency again
3 Life Essence Kft. Tihany 105.7 MHz 76/2018 (I. 30.) judicial review is in progress
4 Sárrét Média Bt. Püspökladány 91.8 MHz 194/2018 (III. 6.) the Media Council is yet to announce the tender
5 Prodo Voice Studio Zrt. Budapest 89.5 MHz 1244/2018 (XI. 13.) the Media Council is yet to announce the tender
6 Kultúr-Média Kft. Szentes 106.1 MHz 286/2019 (III. 5.) re-tendered by the Media Council, yet no bids were submitted
7 Sláger FM Hálózat Zrt. Budapest 103.9 MHz 1242/2018 (XI. 13.) Sláger FM continues to operate on a different frequency
8 Rádió Helló Kft. Heves 93.7 MHz 1075/2019 (IX. 3.) re-tendered by the Media Council, with Rádió1 broadcasting on the frequency again
9 Civil Rádiózásért Alapítvány Budapest 98.0 MHz 1202/2019 (X. 8.) the preparations for the tender procedure are underway
10 Fehérvár Médiacentrum Kft. Székesfehérvár 99.2 MHz 1203/2019 (X. 8.) re-tendered by the Media Council, with Fehérvár Médiacentrum Kft. (Vörösmarty Rádió) broadcasting on the frequency again 
11 Európa RádióNonprofit Közhasznú Kft. Miskolc 90.4 MHz + Mezőkövesd 102.1 MHz 1388/2019 (XII. 18.) re-tendered by the Media Council, with Európa Rádió Kft. (Európa Rádió) broadcasting on the frequency again

Civil Rádió challenged the Media Council’s decision, yet the Supreme Court upheld it. The board is set to announce a tender for the Budapest 98.0 MHz frequency in the near future.

However, Civil Rádió has not ceased to operate and continues to function as an online radio since the Authority has registered it as an online linear radio. Similarly to Klubrádió, Civil Rádió’s entitlement was not renewed by the Media Council due to the established repeated data provision non-compliance.

The observance of legislation is mandatory for all media service providers and Klubrádió is no exception to this rule.