Emmis Communications’ Hungarian national radio station, Sláger, was taken off the air today.
Emmis won the broadcasting license in 1997. During its 12-year stewardship, Emmis and Sláger invested almost 30 billion forints ($170 million at current exchange rates) in Hungary’s economy, provided employment to its all-Hungarian staff, brought world-best practices to the local industry, and operated in a completely transparent and politically non-partisan manner.
The Hungarian public responded quickly to the station: Sláger was consistently the top-rated station in Hungary, reaching 3.5 million listeners per week (out of a population of 10 million).
Despite the many benefits Sláger and Emmis provided, and despite the fact that our financial bid to renew our license would have demonstrably generated the most income for the Hungarian Treasury, the Hungarian equivalent to the FCC, the National Radio and Television Board (ORTT), awarded the license to a Hungarian political party. At the same time, they awarded the other national license, Danubius, to the other national political party.
There has been enormous international pressure on the Hungarian Government to reverse their decision, including a House resolution introduced today in the United States Congress.
Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan said, “We are deeply disappointed, not only for Emmis and our people, but most of all for the people of Hungary. Whenever freedom and democracy are taken away, every citizen suffers immeasurably. All of Hungary has suffered today.”
Now, we move our attention to seeking relief in the court systems of Hungary and the European Union, and join with the Prime Minster of Hungary, the President of Hungary, the head of the Hungarian National Radio and Television Board in denouncing this process as politically corrupt and contrary to the interests of the Hungarian people.
Editor’s Note: A copy of the House resolution is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.