On July 15, the Commission decided to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice for breaching EU telecoms rules with the Hungarian Media Council’s decision to reject Klubradio’s application for the use of radio spectrum on highly questionable grounds.
The conditions attached to the use of radio spectrum and procedures to grant, prolong, renew or revoke those rights are subject to EU electronic communications rules, set out in the European Electronic Communications Code (Directive (EU) 2018/1972). Under the EU electronic communication rules, the rights to use radio frequencies must be assigned on the basis of objective, transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate criteria.
The Commission believes that Hungary is in breach of EU law by applying disproportionate and non-transparent conditions to the renewal of Klubradio’s rights to use radio spectrum. Moreover, the Commission considers that Hungary applied the relevant rules in a disproportionate and discriminatory manner and that Hungary failed to adopt timely decisions. Through its conduct, Hungary has also violated the freedom of speech as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
The Commission launched the infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Hungarian authorities on 9 June 2021. After receiving an unsatisfactory reply, the Commission sent a reasoned opinion to Hungary on 2 December 2021. The exchange with Hungary did not resolve the concerns raised by the Commission and as a result, the Commission decided today to refer Hungary to the Court of Justice.
Bringing the Hungarian legislation and the way it is applied in line with EU law will benefit the entire broadcasting sector.
Hungary’s disproportionate and discriminatory actions prevented Klubradio from continuing its activity in the radio broadcasting sector on the basis of radio frequency.
Media service providers must be able to access the market under non-discriminatory, objectively justified and proportionate terms and conditions known in advance, which in turn allows them to work freely and independently everywhere in the European Union – which lies at the heart of media pluralism.