György Bolgár’s lecture at the Media Intergroup of the European Parliament

On February 27 the Media Intergroup of the European Parliament held another hearing on the state of the Hungarian media. One of the members of this group is Jean-Marie Cavada, a leading member of the European People’s Party. He is also president of the European Movement, whose objective is to transform the relations between the European states and its citizens into a Federal Union of Europe. Before he became a politician Cavada was a well-known television personality in France.

About 120-130 people gathered to hear the invited guests from Hungary: György Bolgár, representing Klubrádió; Gábor Horváth, deputy editor-in-chief of Népszabadság; and Tamás Pindroch, a journalist from Magyar Hírlap. In the audience were several Hungarian politicians: Tamás Nagy-Gaudi and Krisztina Morvai (Jobbik), György Schöpflin and Tamás Deutsch (Fidesz), Lajos Bokros (MDF), and Kinga Göncz (MSZP).

György Bolgár’s speech delivered in English was such a success that Jean-Marie Cavada invited him to participate in a similar gathering in Paris.

I am grateful to Mr. Bolgár for allowing me to publish his speech on Hungarian Spectrum.

* * *

To be or not to be, that is the question – as Shakespeare’s Hamlet would say. Not to be, that is the answer – as the Hungarian Media Authority says to Klubrádió.

I’m in an easy situation now as a senior editor and presenter of the Budapest radio station, Klubrádió. Since we had to apply for the renewal of our frequency licence and especially since it was denied from us we have become the most famous unknown radio in the world. Klubrádió acquired a very fortunate and at the same time very unfortunate fame: it has become the symbol of media freedom in the free world.


György Bolgár at work

How could it happen and why? Klubrádió is an independently owned commercial talk-radio that was established ten years ago with the aim of providing public service-style programs at a time when the first Orbán-government has taken over and politically controlled public radio and television in Hungary. In early 2002 we wanted to offer balanced and objective news coverage and a mostly center-left and liberal point of view. Politics, public life, current affairs, international politics, major issues in the European Union, the economy, environment, cultural topics, arts and literature were and since then have been on the agenda of our radio and we could sustain ourselves as a commercial station does: with advertisements. That is: until 2010 when after the elections the new Orbán-government has stopped all state-advertisements and state-sponsored programs with us. This, together with the financial and economic crisis made it almost impossible for us to survive considering the fact that in Hungary the largest advertiser is the state itself. From the National Lottery to the National Electricity Works, the Hungarian Tourist Agency, the Post Office or the giant energy company, Mol (where the state has a 25% stake) these institutions and companies place their ads almost exclusively in the right-wing, pro-government media as if only government voters could be trusted to try their fortunes in lottery.

To make matters worse our frequency licence expired in early 2011 but the new media authority was constantly delaying the renewal process and was only willing to extend our licence provisionally, for small, two-months periods which made it impossible for us to sign contracts with any advertising agencies or private companies. And if it weren’t enough: the government has used its almost total power – a two-thirds majority in parliament – to intimidate those who even among these circumstances still wanted to reach our listeners through advertising. The loss of advertising revenue would have amounted to a knockout if our audience didn’t rush to Klubrádió’s help with individual donations. Last year we have collected about 600 thousand euros from our listeners and that proved to be vital for our survival.

So we somehow managed to live on until a tendering process started last August for the frequency we have been using. The first and foremost shock came however right away when it turned out that the new tender for Klubrádió’s frequency was for a “music radio that presents some local information and values,” thereby excluding Klubrádió, which concentrates predominantly on national news and politics. Even though Klubrádió has substantially increased its audience during ten years of broadcasting and it is the second most popular talk-radio station in the Budapest area after the traditionally largest public radio the authority was not willing to alter this basic condition despite our protest. Due to which Klubrádió was practically unable to compete with other contenders who offered much more music in their program content.

To make you understand the dirty trick: music has now an approximately 20% share in the Klubrádió’s program. According to the tender requirements set by the Media Council an applicant who offers more than 60% music could win the maximum awardable points. So we tried to manage a compromise: we increased the music share to 40% eliminating some of our talk programs but even so we lost too many points to a completely unknown bidder who has no broadcasting past whatsoever. Applying with our present format of 20% music would have been an absolute non-starter.

Simple as it is, there was no level playing field: that’s obvious but the Media Council plays the role of an innocent bystander, a role that was taken up by the Prime Minister as well. In a letter he sent some weeks ago to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had warned him of the need for media pluralism in Hungary and mentioned the fate of our radio Mr. Orbán answered: „Although the Media Authority works independently from the government in Hungary I requested information about the decision of the authority upon receiving your letter. On the basis of this let me inform you that the competition has been conducted with full transparency and the Media Authority has done its utmost in order to preserve this important news outlet: the applicant has received full marks on subjective criteria where deliberation was possible but the applicant has not made a competitive financial offer. Therefore the Media Authority could not have declared the applicant you have mentioned winner without violating the theory and practice of free market competition.”

I repeat: according to the Prime Minister the Media Authority has done its utmost in order to preserve this important news outlet. What would have happened if they had done less than their utmost? Perhaps we would have been thrown out of the tender right at the beginning. And what was their utmost? Favouring a music radio station, of course. Instead of the last talk-radio in Hungary that is independent and critical of the government.

Now something on the financial offer as it is the final argument against us: Klubrádió’s offer was somewhat more than the required minimum, about 200.000 euros per year – by the way it is two and a half times more than we are paying now for the licence, that is: the authority raised the fee substiantally even though radio stations are in dire financial straits nowadays. Anyway, the winner’s bid was 70.000 euros more, although it seems strange that a newly established company with a starting capital of 3300 euros and without any known past activity could raise its bid above all the other contenders. Considering however, that the operation of a music radio is evidently much cheaper than that of a talk and news radio it is clear that the media authority paved the smoothest possible way for a new music radio and for the elimination of us.

But in the end: was it the licence fee offer that made the difference? No, not at all. The final countdown says everything about the tender: the winners have won by one, single point while Klubrádió has lost three to them when offering only 40% music as a talk-radio versus their 60%. If there had been a level playing field, and no difference had been made between music and talk-radios we would have easily won even with a smaller licence fee offer. Well, evidently not with this government and this, „fully independent” Media Authority.

End of sad story, I would say, but perhaps still not yet. Klubrádió appealed against that tender decision and turned to an administrative court that will decide in the middle of next month whether the procedure was legal or – as according to our appeal – not. To make matters more complicated we have another litigation going on as well because we have already won another frequency licence back in 2010 just before the elections. At that time it became obvious that the previous media body didn’t want to renew our used frequency’s licence due to the coming elections, so we decided to apply for another, unused frequency. We were declared as winner but after the elections the new media authority declined to sign the operating contract with Klubrádió, so we had to initiate a lawsuit and the ruling might come or even might have come today in a Budapest municipal court. (and it really came: the Budapest Municipal Court decided that we were illegally stripped of that frequency licence. The only problem is that this sentence is still appealable). Anyway, we want to make radio programs instead of conducting lawsuits.

To make it clear once again: Klubrádió’s prospective closure means the silencing of Hungary’s only remaining independent radio station and a significant blow to the media pluralism in the country. The decision was evidently politically motivated and shows the widely extended licensing power of the media authority. It it weren’t enough, in the last months we have lost not only our Budapest frequency but five of our affiliated frequencies in some provincial cities as well.

All this might seem too obvious: the government wants to silence critical voices because it feels endangered by them. A formally legal tendering process made it easy for them but the following domestic and international uproar triggered a very angry and characteristically Hungarian response. The pro-government media began attacking Klubrádió and its journalists with a vengeance. We are on the front pages regularly with fabricated stories that try to prove our incompetence and lack of integrity. Can you name just one democratic country where a so-called conservative newspaper, the flagship of the governing party regularly tries to discredit journalists from the opposing political side and puts them on front page almost every other day? While systematic discreditation of journalists and even character assassination has been a well-known practice of the Fidesz media in the past, now they have ventured into new territory.

This latest attack began on February 17 when Magyar Nemzet, the mouthpiece of the current government attacked me of amiably talking with a caller in my radio program about “the liquidation” of President Pál Schmitt. Of course the paper is not telling the truth: the caller raised the possibility, „a conspiracy theory” that someone might liquidate the president because he became inconvenient for the government and I reacted right away that the idea itself is absolutely unacceptable and I’m not willing to speak or think about it. However, the paper immediately moved into higher gear and phoned the office of European Commissioner Neelie Kroes in Brussels where they told her spokesman about a radio station where “death threats” are being discussed. And even that wasn’t enough. Magyar Nemzet also phoned Martin Schulz’s office asking what he thinks of the affair. They described all this in an article titled: “To Kroes all that is not important.” In it one can read that “Neelie Kroes, who is so worried about the freedom of the press, not long ago welcomed György Bolgár in her office.” In the end Magyar Nemzet had to be satisfied with reporting Klubrádió and myself to the Hungarian Media Authority, asking them to investigate.

Frustrated they surely were because after getting nowhere in Brussels, they decided to discredit the key players. Neelie Kroes was the prime target and soon they digged out an article in European Voice from which they learned that the former husband of Neelie Kroes, accused his wife of listening to fortune tellers and astrologists before making decisions plus she rented office space in the mansion of a wealthy Dutch real estate developer, who had spent four and a half years in jail for money laundering and blackmail. This is the woman – Magyar Nemzet wrote – who welcomed in her office the owner of Klubrádió, András Arató and György Bolgár while she wasn’t interested in the opinion of the Hungarian authorities.

Then another surprising target was found: none other than the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In a front-page article Magyar Nemzet headlined: “Clinton tried to induce [Viktor Orbán] to commit a crime.”  The article suggests exactly that’s what happened when Hillary Clinton urged the Hungarian Prime Minister to interfere in Klubrádió’s frequency dispute. By the way Mrs Clinton did nothing of this sort. In a letter she had this to say about the whole Media Law issue. “As for the Media Law, we share concerns expressed by the OSCE, Freedom House, and a recent international mission of press experts that the law concentrates too much power in the hands of a politically-appointed Media Council. Also, the recent non-renewal of a popular talk radio station’s license raises concerns about the commitment to ensure diverse voices in the media realm.” That’s how she induced Mr Orbán to commit a crime. Good and friendly relations with the European Union and with the United States are not as important as influencing domestic opinion with outright lies or putting pressure on the court that is handling the case between Klubrádió and the Media Authority.

All this reminds one of the communist era when the official party paper initiated attacks on some people who consequently lost their jobs or were brought to court. I hope nothing like that would follow suit now but the same killing instinct works, under the disguise of media freedom.

Just as in the case of the public service media. You might or might not have heard about the scandals that shook the Hungarian media in recent months. A completely and intentionally falsified television report in the public service TV News on Daniel Cohn Bendit’s Budapest press conference suggesting he (who dared to criticize the Hungarian Prime Minister in Strasbourg) escaped from the scene without answering an inconvenient question. In fact, it was not true, Cohn-Bendit did not avoid any questions and stayed at the scene long after. Some days later however, the reporter (by the way a professional nobody) was appointed editor-in-chief of the public television’s current affairs programs. Or more recently: blurring the face of the former Chief Justice in a TV reportage on the order of one of the executives. At the same time one-third of the employees of public television and radio was sacked including the best and most experienced staff who were not enthusiastically pro-government and you may get to the conclusion that public media is totally under the control of the government. Not frequently mentioned but equally as important is that the independence of the former Hungarian Radio and the two public TV companies was eliminated, all news programs are prepared in a central news organization within the state-owned Hungarian News Agency and all the other reporters, journalists, editors and technical staff are employed by a newly created company under the auspices of the Media Authority. Total personal, organizational, political and financial control in the public service media: that is Hungary now.

How could we get here? How on earth was it possible?  Somewhat less than a year ago I was invited to Stockholm by the Swedish Pen Club to speak about the then relatively new Hungarian media law. At that time the world was watching with disbelief the debate around the media legislation because it was the most obvious sign of a massive change in Hungarian public and political life. A newly established media authority with only government delegated members plus the increased role of this media body with the right to interfere in practically everything and everywhere including the printed press and the internet websites even the blogs, all this seemed unimaginable in a member-state of the European Union. It was the western media that discovered the worrying even shocking signs in Hungary but then politicians – especially in the European parliament – followed suit.

At that time in Stockholm however, I tried to warn my listeners that the fate of the media is just one example of many alarming changes, all proving that the new Hungarian government intends to dismantle the democratic system in Hungary in order to establish itself as the only electable governing party for at least the next twenty years. Just to mention a few cases:

1. Swiftly after obtaining the vast majority in parliament the government pushed through a statement on national peace and cooperation and made it compulsory to hang it out on a proper place and in a proper form in all government buildings and institutions. Since then Mr Orbán’s government was not willing to cooperate with anyone on anything.

2. When the Constitutional Court declared a new tax law with retroactive effect unconstitutional the parliament immediately revoked the court’s licence to judge on any financial legislation. In the new constitution its powers are severely curtailed.

3. The new constitution or Fundamental Law was prepared and accepted without any broad public and professional debate and with the demonstrative absence of the parliamentary opposition. It weakens independent institutions, centralizes power and radically cuts all checks and balances. At the same time the spirit of the whole text takes us back to the 1930’s.

4. Legislation has been deeply undemocratic throughout the last one and a half year: in most cases individual MP’s introduce new bills instead of the government so as to avoid otherwise legally compulsory consultations with interested parties, specialists, professional bodies and organizations, like trade unions etc. and to cut short debates in parliament itself.

5. The formerly independent Fiscal Council was immediately disbanded after it criticised the government for trying to conceal large holes in the budget and a new body was created under total government control.

6. Other independent institutions were also put under the control of government appointees like the State Audit Office whose chairmanship was awarded to a former Fidesz politician without proper professional background or the all-powerful Media Council, whose president was also a Fidesz member of parliament. The same goes for other very important positions: the Chief Public Prosecutor was also a Fidesz parliamentary candidate, the new head of the newly created national Judicial Office is the wife of one of the most influential Fidesz politicians and a personal friend of the Prime Minister. Moreover these people are appointed for an exceptionally long period of 9 or 12 years and even after that they can remain in their position if the parliament is unable to elect their successor with a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

7. A culture war has been going on against left-wing and liberal-minded artists, filmmakers, philosophers charging them with financial improprieties, embezzlement of state funds, effectively intimidating them to leave everything behind and escape to their small private world. The internationally acclaimed chief conductor, chief artistic director and ballet director of the National Opera were forced to abandon their posts, the appointment of the new director was withdrawn through the intervention of the Prime Minister and there is a new government commissioner who heads the National Opera reporting directly to the Prime Minister.

8. And last but not least, a seemingly insignificant but arguably perhaps the most characteristic event of all: a quasi nongovernmental committee of overseeing geographical names in the country was disbanded and two of its members were sacked from their government jobs because they were not willing to approve a government decision to rename Budapest Ferihegy Airport to Ferenc Liszt Airport. The experts offered a compromise combining the two names, the original and the new but the government did not tolerate any contradiction.

Can you speak or write about it in Hungary? Yes, you can. Is it a proof then that media freedom still exists? No, not in the least. Journalists and reporters working with independent or opposition media organizations most of the time don’t have the chance of making interviews with those in government who are responsible for important decisions. The Prime Minister himself for example has never ever given an interview to Klubrádió even though the most highly acclaimed radio reporters and editors of the country are working with us. So the chances of free questioning and free speech are quickly diminishing. The moment when one can not tell the facts objectively or express any opinion will only be the tragic end of a very dangerous course Hungary has taken.

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Long Live the Klubrádió !
The best American and European lawyers must file charges against the Hungarian authorities, in Budapest, and in Brussels.
Let us hope that this can prevent an eventual bloodshed in Hungary.
It may push the police, the army and the interior security forces to the defense of the fragile democracy.


That speech says it all – a really concise list of so many things that are going wrong in Hungary right now …
Will there be a reaction by any of our trolls here ?
Johnny and Joseph and … We’re waiting for your answers!

Living with it in Hungary
Living with it in Hungary

Wow, very well put together speech.
Off topic, I will most likely attend the mini-conference on public debt and the forint next week in Budapest. The lineup includes Tamás Fellegi, Júlia Király, David Lubin (Citigroup), Pasquale Diana (Morgan Stanley), Radován Jelasity (Erste Bank), and a few others. I’m willing to field questions that anyone might have.


Thank you, Éva – a very interesting and informative read.
And he makes a point that is often overlooked – they have already had several frequencies taken away from them (on what grounds?). For instance, you used to be able to listen to Klubrádió in Debrecen, but not any more.
My one-off donation is about to become monthly.


I agree with all of you; it was a quite eloquent speech and a very useful summary of events. If I encounter anyone doubtful of what Fidesz is accomplishing and willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, I shall direct them to this piece.


Sterling stuff: logical and precise. I didn’t know Gyorgy wrote so well. There’s only a few insignificant grammatical errors–far better than I’ve seen almost anywhere in Hungary, including the Fidesz
dancing fleas known as Szijarto and Kovacs.

Eva S. Balogh

Petofi, “Sterling stuff: logical and precise. I didn’t know Gyorgy wrote so well. There’s only a few insignificant grammatical errors–far better than I’ve seen almost anywhere in Hungary”
I didn’t touch the text at all.


OT – there was a very successful auction of 12 month bills today. It was three times oversubscribed and the government ended up selling 15 bn forint more than they had intended. The yields were also better than recently (although historically still high).
If this becomes a trend, would OV be able to forget about the IMF/EU loans?
I know this is a more expensive method of borrowing than via the IMF/EU, but, if it meant he didn’t have to kowtow to the EU, maybe Orbán would be prepared to take the hit?


@ Paul…”Orban willing to take the hit”
I hope not. If Orban gets any money, or solve the country’s financial problems (on the surface, anyway) than the country is surely doomed.


What a great speech. It is full of facts, and also has a personal perspective, a personal story to tell. Thank you Eva for publishing this, and if Mr Bolgar happens to read this, thank you Mr Bolgar!


A well-written and logic speech tailored for a non-Hungarian, objective audience.
Despite the billions of taxpayers money Fidesz are throwing at their overseas propaganda effort there is a fact that they seem incapable of grasping- you are not speaking to and trying to convince your own rabid support-base back home but an objective, educated and rational overseas audience.

peter litvanyi

Thank you, Eva.

Living with it in Hungary
Living with it in Hungary
@Paul, I saw this also. So one of the questions I’d like to ask about is the long term effects of taking on the high interest rates in these bond auctions. These rates are far above what analyst say Italy needs to stay below. Do they believe Hungary even need the IMF at this point? Thing is they will have to float a large number of bonds very soon. The number is so large that no one in their right mind would risk just dumping them out there and see what happens. They must be visiting investors and trying to generate interest in the bonds. They must be gauging interest and the interest they are generating might be having an impact on the demand for Forint (hence stronger) and the demand for these short term bonds. That said, I still fear that this could all go south as soon as the markets, who’ve already priced in the IMF deal realize that this deal isn’t as close as some would lead you to believe. Analysts are saying end of April/May but I think that is very optimistic and the analysts are hedging their words very carefully. @Eva, I don’t know why… Read more »
London Calling! György – welcome and thanks for contributing to Eva’s blog. Hearing events straight from the horse’s mouth – and how extraordinary they are – is very illuminating. (Almost impossible to believe even for this dissembling government!) As I expect you know, here in England we have the excellent Radio 4 – which I equate (without being able to speak – or understand – a word of Hungarian!) with Klubradio – or very similar. Radio 4 (inter alia) is the oxygen of our democracy which, together with the newspaper ‘The Guardian’ keeps the patient, which is democracy, on its toes and very healthy. Unfortunately you are the oxygen mask of a very sick patient – and it is touching (and encouraging) to see how your many supporters are keeping you alive! Long may they/we continue to do so. You quote Hillary’s letter: “Though the Media Authority works independently from the government in Hungary I requested information about the decision of the authority upon receiving your letter.” Yea right! Your treatment has Orban’s paws all over it – and his suggestion that he looked into it on receipt of the letter is very poor acting – and may explain why… Read more »

London Calling!
Whoops! I meant:
“You quote Orban’s letter to Hillary…..”

Living with it in Hungary
Living with it in Hungary

News today has Zoltan Csefalva saying a deal with the IMF in late June is too pessimistic in response to some analysts believing that late June is now optimistic. Given that the government has seemingly done nothing to appease the EC and there is a complete lack of trust and many problems I’m wondering if this government is now seriously thinking of floating the bonds without the IMF in hopes of avoiding further drama with the EC. And I wonder how the markets will react once they see they supplying the ingredients to OVs stone soup.

Eva S. Balogh

Some1: “Thank you Eva for publishing this, and if Mr Bolgar happens to read this, thank you Mr Bolgar!”
I made sure that he does.

Eva S. Balogh

Living with it in Hungary: “News today has Zoltan Csefalva saying a deal with the IMF in late June is too pessimistic”
When I read what he had to say yesterday I was just laughing. After all, we don’t even know whether there will be negotiations. There are a few demands the Hungarian government first must fulfill and it doesn’t look that Orbán is in any hurry to comply.
In fact, there are more and more people who are convinced that Orbán has no intention of negotiating with the IMF any time soon but to ride it out. Talk about them, talk about them in the hope that the markets take his intentions seriously and don’t move against the forint and the Hungarian government bonds.


Eva: “more people who are convinced that Orbán has no intention of negotiating with the IMF”
I am very afraid that it is not the IMF he is not willing to negotiate with, but the European Parliament. The EU would never give it’s blessing that is a prerequisite to the IMF deal, without the Orban regime willingness to bring up their “game” to European (or should I say western) norms. It is truly unfortunate that at the time our ultra-right Hungarians trying to find the missing Hungarian genetical links to Asia to “prove” our inheritance, Orban already took a leap and brought Hungary’s governing to the level of ruling that very much sums up the said countries.

Joseph Simon

“wolfi: Johny and Joseph … we’re waiting for your answers.”
Obviously, Orbán should handle this question with more finesse. He wants to destroy the left in Hungary, so that it would never rise again. Many people still long for Kádár and the left tends to feed this nostalgia. Orbán wants a political ‘tabula rasa’, although I doubt if administrative methods ever work.


Joseph Simon wrote:
“Many people still long for Kádár and the left tends to feed this nostalgia.”
What a joke. In policy after policy, in an authoritarian and non-transparent governing style, and in the refusal to have a proper accounting for the abuses of the Kádár era, it is the Orbán government that feeds Kádár nostalgia and takes step after step to drive Hungary out of the European mainstream.


London Calling!
O/T Living-With-It-In-Hungary
Re your conference offer – Thanks. I know you will anyway – but I would be intrigued to know the views of the non-domiciled Banks over what has happened to the domiciled Banks? What advice would they give them – and whether they would trust the climate for investment themselves? How much do they think that Orban has shot himself in the foot?
(The Government appears to be desperately buying up Banks in possible anticipation of a liquidity/investment problem!)
(So that’s just the whole conference then!)


@Charlie H. “..we in England here have…”
You have a lot.
During our five years in Moscow–I equated that pleasure, possibly, with being in Zimbabwe–we discovered what the 18th/19th century must’ve been like.
While the Russkies officially blame England (spies within rocks in the park..) for most everything, the fleeing oligarchs know better–London is the escape choice of most, as witness the fleeing ex-mayor, Luzkov, who purchased a pied a terre for $100 million in the London vicinity.
Besides that, nothing much matches the scepter’d isle for beauty, country charm, and calm. (I wish I had the funds to do 6months of Shakespeare research there.)
You can imagine my increasing displeasure on finding that our retirement plans for Budapest are now being systematically soiled by Putin’s clammy-handed grab (through MOL, banks, Orban etc.) into the tender underbelly of a confused populace at the heart and soul of a mightily troubled country. (Now there is some mixed metaphoring for ya!)


Joseph Simon: “lwants to destroy the left in Hungary, so that it would never rise again. Many people still long for Kádár”
You are right
1. Orban wants autocracy, a government without opposition.
2. Orban is the one who is longing for a Kadar kind regime, but even more strict. Nationalization of private companies and private money. Restriction on media. Centralization of the information. Privileges for the “ruling class”.
Are you saying that you are afraid of your own shadow, as Fidesz and Orban supporter?
One more thing.. Orban and his family owes a lot to the Kadar regime, that they faithfully served, until it seemed to be beneficial to serve. Please do nor forget that.

Odin's Lost Eye

One of the things I do not understand is why the Hungarian Parliament have not as yet created a Parliamentary Commission to investigate All ‘Un-Hungarian Activities’. It would be instructed to deal with all complainants of the type Mr György Bolgár and the like.
If the Hungarian parliament tried that stunt the E.U. would have a field day.


Charlie – the internet is your answer. R4 loud and clear all day long.
The time difference gets you a bit sometimes – I invariably forget that the Archers comes on at 8, not 7, and my wife isn’t too keen on me listening to three quarters of an hour of the World Tonight at 11pm! But otherwise it’s a lifeline to sanity and normality.
And sitting on the balcony on a summers day, listening to Just a Minute or the News Quiz is almost my definition of heaven.
The odd thing is that I never used to miss anything UK when we were in Hungary, I found it surprisingly easy to switch back and forth, depending on which country we were in, But in the last couple of years Hungary has become such a strange place that now I find I need my fix of R4 just to keep me going.
For years my dream was to move to Hungary for good and bring the kids up there, but there’s no way I’d do that now.
Thank you Orbán Viktor – another dream you’ve screwed up.

Paul! Yes! Thanks. I know the internet is the answer but I have had trouble sorting out a decent ISP – one that fits my circumstances without a monthly contract being idle for most of the year. Radio masts are not too numerous on the outskirts of Gyor. And presumably there is no restriction to ‘listen again’ on the BBC? It would be unfair to eulogise about Radio 4 on here – except maybe to give Klubradio some ideas! The radio is my primary listening preference – there is so much rubbish on the TV! But yes ‘Just a Minute’; the hilarious ‘News Quiz’ (The panel would have a field day with Hungarian events!); Sorry I haven’t a clue (Jack Dee has been surprisingly good in replacing our Humph!); Moral Maze; All the news programs – especially PM with Eddie Mare etc. I was weaned on the Archers – but in later life I switch away to the World Service – there are some amazing programs on there. When I told my brother I had a Hungarian partner and started to tell him some of the history of Hungary he knew all about the Hungarian Uprising in 1956 (I’m too… Read more »

@Odin’s Lost Eye…”EU would have a field day..”
They’re already having that; problem is, Orban informs the said EU members that “we’re not playing that game…we’re playing a different one. In our game, you must declare youself: what, specifically, incrementally, jogistically, is wrong with our laws? Be specific. Be kind. Don’t attack us for being Hungarians!”
So you see, there’s no way for the EU to win. Orban changes the game rules at his whim. Just when it looks like something might work, Orban makes sure to gum up the works. He’s one sly, sick,

I am becominging more and more convinced that Orban is trying a “Turkey” re IMF-EU agreement. Nothing, absolutely nothing has been changed with regards the main sticking points between the regime and the EU (which need to be sorted out first before the IMF even comes into the picture). Sometime at the end of March is when “parliament” (ie Orban), possibly, will start thinking about it. If it were thought to be urgent for Orban amnd his regime’s survival, then it would have been rammed through the very day parliament reconvened in February. Instead, we have an obvious tester being put out into the markets today (, sometime during the second quarter??? And the markets, as exemplified by the exchange rates and share prices, merely shrugged its shoulders The Little Führer is seeing what transpires in the rest of the EU in the next couple of months. He’s betting on either: 1. Total chaos, in which case the state of Hungarian democracy will be the least of Brussels worries 2. Or a general economic upturn, internally and more inmportantly externally. Either happens, then he’s in the clear. All he needs to do in the meantime is to make sure none… Read more »
Charlie – I’m (slightly) ashamed to say that we got round the ‘not being in the country all year’ ISP problem by piggy-backing on a nearby unprotected wi-fi router. We can pick up three or four from our flat, although some of them work better at different times of the day and one only works in the bathroom! For some reason, people don’t seem as fixated with wi-fi security in Hungary as they are in the UK (you never find ANY unprotected routers here). This may be connected with the attitude to public wi-fi, which is generally not only free, but doesn’t require a password in Hungary. If you sit in the ‘food court’ in the new mall in Debrecen, you can access no less than three different wi-fi routers, without even needing a password! So, it’s worth a try next time you’re in the country – you might be lucky. I wouldn’t recommend mobile based internet access anywhere, and especially in Hungary. It’s very expensive and very low bandwidth. And, even if you can get enough bandwidth for R4, you’ll soon use up your ‘free’ download allowance. I am not a fan of DAB, so have no idea what… Read more »