Sláger Radio may yet return to the air in Hungary. Sláger’s majority owner, Emmis Communications, reports that a Hungarian court Tuesday morning ruled in favor of Sláger that the National Radio and Television Board (ORTT) illegally awarded a national radio broadcast contract to FM 1, which had replaced Sláger.
The ruling means that Sláger was one of only two qualifying bids in the recent tender for Hungary’s two national radio licenses.
“We feel vindicated that the courts struck down the regulatory decision, and ruled in favor for our claims. The people of Hungary believed in Sláger, and we trust we’ll be back on the air soon,” Emmis Chairman & CEO Jeff Smulyan said.
Just how soon remains to be seen. This is new legal territory for the Hungarian courts and the people on the other side are in league with the country’s two largest political parties.
According to the account from Emmis’ attorneys, the court orally ruled Tuesday that any bidder for a national radio license that has an interest in another Hungarian radio station has a conflict of interest under Hungary’s Media Law and may not be awarded a national radio broadcast contract. The court made the same ruling earlier this month in a case involving Danubius, the former operator of the other national Hungarian radio station. Because all the other bidders in the recent national radio broadcast license tender had interests in other Hungarian radio stations, Slager and Danubius are the only two qualified bidders.
Emmis won the broadcasting license in 1997. During its 12-year stewardship, Emmis said it 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.”