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Top court rejects Sláger Rádió suit, upholds Danubius vs media authority

Hungary's media authority in charge of awarding radio and television frequencies broke the law in its handling of a bid procedure in the case of commercial radio Danubius versus Class FM, the Supreme Court said, upholding a previous court ruling, but the court rejected Sláger Radio's lawsuits against FM1 Konzorcium, which owns Neo FM, and the media authority.

The then incumbent radio networks, Danubius and Sláger, lost their bid to renew frequencies for a further seven-year period in late 2009, triggering sharp criticism of the media authority ORTT -- the predecessor to the current media authority (NMHH) - both in Hungary and abroad.

Danubius's frequency was awarded to Class FM, controlled by Advenio, while the Sláger band went to Neo FM, owned by FM1 Konzorcium.

Sláger's owners argued that the competition issued by ORTT had been unlawful and therefore the contract with the new broadcaster should be annulled and the original state of affairs restored. The Supreme Court rejected this demand.

But it said that in the case of Class FM, the competition conditions were not consistent with the law and the structure of Advenio's ownership should have disqualified it from bidding.

Although the court cannot oblige ORTT to terminate the contracts with the winning bidders Class FM and Neo FM, the ruling made it clear that under the effective laws, primarily the media law, the watchdog should make this step, and repeat the bid procedure as if the two winners had been disqualified.