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BBC Hungarian-language service to be scrapped

Hungarians will soon be listening for the last time to BBC radio broadcasts in their own language, as the British Foreign Office-funded programmes in most central and eastern European countries are being scrapped to divert funding to a new Arab television network being set up in 2007 to compete with Al-Jazeera, national daily Népszava reported. The move comes in spite of the increasing success and popularity of BBC Hungarian-language programmes, which have enjoyed
slots on commercial radio Info Rádió, as well as the flagship public
service station Kossuth Rádió over the last few years.
Deputy leader of the senior governing Socialist party István Újhelyi told Népszava the "legendary" BBC had represented the benchmark in Hungarian broadcasting at a time when its influence was indispensable. Junior governing liberal party SZDSZ leader Iván Pető said Hungary would be losing a useful and standard-bearing tradition and the BBC?s name and its legacy was a guarantee of the current standards in broadcasting.
Main opposition party spokesman János Halász said many Hungarians tuned in to the BBC Hungarian-language programmes because in practice the BBC was the only source of impartial information. The BBC "Magyar Adás", which is widely regarded in Hungary as a source of unbiased news with its own distinct agenda and voice, will cease transmissions in March 2006 at around the time of the elections, said Népszava.