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Radio station banned in Hungary

BBC, UK
Jan. 21, 2004
Nick Thorpe, BBC correspondent in Budapest
news.bbc.co.uk

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday January 23, 2004

An alternative radio station in Hungary has been banned from broadcasting for 30 days by the state media watchdog for insulting Christians.

During a live programme on Christmas Eve a presenter from Tilos Radio, based in Budapest, suggested that all Christians should be exterminated.

The affair is unusual because the majority of people in Hungary are Roman Catholics and previous legislation on hate speech was designed to protect minority groups, such as Jews and Gypsies.

The radio presenter was fired and the manager of the station apologised.

But that was not enough to prevent a tide of criticism from representatives of the main churches in Hungary and many political leaders.

Anti-Semitic

The five-member National Radio and Television Authority, which oversees the broadcast media in Hungary, has now banned the station.

This is on the basis of a paragraph of the media law which prohibits comments which offend or ostracise any social group.

The authority also prevented the station from applying for state support for six months and issued a final warning that if similar comments are broadcast it could lose its licence altogether.

The affair has aroused strong emotions in Hungary, where more attention is normally paid to anti-Semitic or anti-Roma remarks.

Earlier this month in another incident thousands of demonstrators called for the station to be closed.

That protest meeting stirred controversy when several participants set fire to an Israeli flag.

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