The Hungarian opposition radio is pressured out of the air because it loses the license renewal case

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© Reuters. Court decision on the fate of the Klubradio station

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By Anita Komuves

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – A Hungarian opposition radio station on Tuesday lost an appeal against the revocation of its license, cutting by one the already dwindling ranks of media outlets criticizing the country's nationalist government.

The media authority announced in September that it would not renew the club radio's license due to a number of violations by the broadcaster during a seven-year license period that expires on Sunday.

Klubradio, which has broadcast for 19 years and whose political and talk show guests often criticize government policy, will then be forced out of the air after a Budapest court dismissed its appeal on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban's growing control of the Hungarian media is one of several issues that have been heavily criticized by the European Union for the erosion of democratic standards in the country, which his government has rejected.

Judge Regina Antal told the court that the two crimes committed by Klubradio meant that "the media council had no room to consider" whether the license should be renewed.

The broadcaster said it was twice late to file reports on program content, a mistake made by other broadcasters whose licenses had nonetheless been renewed.

The court's decision, against which Klubradio's chairman Andras Arato, appealed, means the court won't be able to work online until Sunday.

"The independent media space from the ruling party continues to shrink significantly, and this (case) is another important step in the process," said Agnes Urban, analyst at Mertek Media Monitor Think-Tank.

Under Orban, state broadcasters have become little more than mouthpieces for the government, while several other media outlets have been shut down or taken over by pro-government owners in recent years.

Orban had called for an increase in Hungary's ownership of the country's media, saying it rose from 34% to 55% last week.

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