Emmis takes Hungarian radio dispute to international forum


It’s been nearly two years since Slager Radio went silent in Hungary, but Emmis Communications isn’t giving up in its battle to get the license back. Emmis, along with the former owner of another silenced Hungarian station, on Friday (10/28) filed a request for arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against the Republic of Hungary.

The filing came on the second anniversary of the date when the Hungarian broadcast regulator, ORTT, awarded the licenses for the frequencies to new companies with close ties to the country’s two largest political parties. The actions brought condemnation of Hungary for corruption from the US and other countries.

Slager and Danubius Radio won multiple decisions in the Hungarian courts finding that ORTT violated Hungarian law, most recently in July, but the Hungarian courts are rather toothless when it comes to political corruption.

In their ICSID filing, Emmis and the principal owner of Danubius, Accession Mezzanine Capital (AMC), assert that the Republic of Hungary has violated its treaty obligations by expropriating private property without compensation and not extending fair and equitable treatment to non-Hungarian investors.  

ICSID is an international adjudicatory body operating under the authority of the World Bank. “Countries that are parties to investment treaties customarily agree to submit disputes alleging a breach of treaty obligations to ICSID for binding arbitration,” said Emmis and AMC. “It is essentially the court of last recourse for disputes involving sovereign nations and foreign investors,” they added.

Emmis and AMC are represented in the arbitration by the Washington, D.C. office of Covington & Burling, LLP.