Government film commissioner and casino and media magnate Andy Vajna’s Radio 1 has acquired another broadcasting frequency, which was previously in use by a municipally-owned broadcaster, reports Magyar Nemzet.
Rádió 1’s request was discussed by the Media Council on Monday after the Zalaegerszeg city radio and Vajna’s Radio Plus Kft. announced their agreement last week. Although the National Media and Communications Authority’s (NMHH) official decision will only be released at the end of the week, given the predominance of Fidesz delegated members in the Media Council it is unlikely that the body will raise any objection to the expansion of Vajna’s radio. Once the NMHH approves the merger, Rádió 1 can immediately start broadcasting in Zalaegerszeg, capital of Zala county, which, according to Magyar Nemzet’s sources, could be as early as October.
Radio Plus Kft. has recently acquired numerous broadcasting frequencies throughout Hungary with the consent of the NMHH, which is tasked with enforcing the country’s media law and ensuring media plurality. In many settlements, Vajna’s company managed to take over local broadcasters with already established infrastructure. As a Fidesz mayor who wanted to remain anonymous put it, these local radio stations “were made an offer for leasing their airtime that they could not refuse.” In other cases, another company run by Vajna’s lawyers was awarded a broadcasting frequency and only later joined the network of Rádió 1.
However, there are still some county seats where Rádió 1 has not yet acquired a broadcasting frequency. One of them is the Békés county capital of Békéscsaba, where the name Rádió 1 Békéscsaba is already taken by a small family broadcaster which has been broadcasting for 24 years. However, according to 24.hu, when the broadcasting rights of the family-run Interax Kft. expired in 2016 the NMHH made the small company reapply. The council ultimately awarded the frequency to Vajna’s company, even though its application contained numerous errors and only won over the 24-year-old local broadcaster by one additional point.
Thanks to the rapid and seamless expansion of Rádió 1, assisted by Hungary’s media authority, its listenership in June-August nearly caught up with that of state-run networks Kossuth and Petőfi.