November 21, 2009 / 12:08 AM / 9 years ago

Emmis to exit Hungary after losing radio licence

BUDAPEST, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S.-based radio broadcaster Emmis Communications Corp. (EMMS.O) has said it will leave Hungary after losing a commercial radio licence it had held for 12 years in a tender that it said was politically influenced.

In a statement on its website on Friday, Hungarian Slager Radio, which was taken off the air on Wednesday, said its owner Emmis “made a difficult decision today, and at present it does not wish to continue analogue broadcast services in Hungary.”

Late last month Hungary’s National Radio and Television Board (ORTT) awarded two commercial frequencies to stations that industry critics and Emmis said were close to major political parties. The head of ORTT resigned in protest over the awards.

Emmis has said it will seek redress in Hungarian and EU courts.

Indiana-based Emmis has won support from the local Democrat Congressman Joe Donnelly, who has submitted a resolution condemning the way the Hungarian radio licences were awarded.

Earlier this week, diplomatic envoys from nine countries including the United States, Japan and major EU states, told Hungary that “non-transparent behaviour” could discourage foreign investment and hamper growth.

“It is therefore with great concern that we hear of significant new instances of non-transparent behaviour affecting investors in such areas as public utilities, broadcasting and elements of the nation’s transport infrastructure,” the nine said in their joint letter.

Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai has invited the ambassadors to a meeting on Monday to reaffirm Hungary’s commitment to improving the investor climate and hear their proposals on the subject. [ID:nLJ418507] (Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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