Posted: 05 Mar 2012 Print Send a link
The authors are certainly correct about avoiding the establishment of a "bad news" station.
So how is the goal of providing independent journalism to Hungary best accomplished? In 2012, Hungarians won't huddle around their shortwave sets. They probably don't even have shortwave sets. They might, in limited numbers, listen to a medium wave frequency from a neighboring country. The radio station would also be available via satellite and the internet, but this still would not attract mass audiences.
A website (with the obligatory accompanying social media outlets and mobile version) might seem more suitable for the present media environment. Again, the audience could be limited, especially because of the thousands of competing sources of information on the internet.
Many Hungarians have access to satellite dishes. A channel on one of the popular European satellites could bring audiences larger than those for radio or internet efforts, but would also cost more than the other options. If it is a commercial channel that succeeds in selling advertising, those costs could be offset.
Should this be an indigenous Hungarian effort, such as Klubradio using a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy and corresponding European organizations? On the other hand, the Radio Free Europe name does have stature, even if it also has a mixed historical legacy. The fact that RFE has been revived in Hungarian would itself send a message, inside Hungary and beyond.
Of course, some member of Congress, perhaps forgetting that there ever was an RFE Hungarian Service, will slip in an amendment calling for the resumption of a Voice of America Hungarian Service, with the result being we will have both VOA and RFE broadcasts in Hungarian.
Update: Washington Post, 2 Mar 2012, letter from Gyorgy Szapary, Hungarian amabassador to the US: "The writers suggested that CNN was dropped by one of the major cable companies because of government pressure. Senior management of that company, which is majority-owned by Deutsche Telekom, categorically denied this and said that it was a purely financial decision. Contrary to the writers’ claims, Klubradio, a station airing opposition voices, lost one of its regional frequencies in a transparent tender by offering less money than its competitors did. The decision was appealed, and the case is before the courts. Meanwhile, the radio station stays on the air."