Hungarian Conservative

The First Free Radio of Hungary Is Going Silent

The first radio channel in Hungary considered independent and free will go silent on September 3.

The National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) announced that they will not renew the rights of broadcast for Tilos Rádió.


The radio was founded in 1991. It was the first of its kind in the country. They started to broadcast in Budapest, and it is considered to be the first ever public, free and independent radio channel. It started out as a pirate radio, broadcasting from an underground bar named ‘Tilos az Á’– where it got its name from. At the beginning they mostly broadcasted music; however, sometimes they also hosted talks, reports and interviews. They recorded their broadcast on cassettes in the morning and during the afternoon they played it two to three times during the week.

They started and stayed as a non-profit organization. In 1993, they stopped their illegal broadcast and went to the authorities for broadcasting right – approved in 1995. Their legal broadcasts lasted every day of the week from 11 p.m. until 10 a.m. This was considered their legendary era because they played progressive, unorthodox music while also hosting their famous talk-shows.

Current Events

However successful and well-liked the radio was with their talks that discussed almost every topic known, they have run into trouble recently. In April this year, the NMHH announced that they will not extend the broadcasting rights of the radio because of ‘repeated or severe infractions’ regarding their laws. They announced that the radio made infractions four times regarding the age limit or broadcasting time on their shows. They added that the 90,8 frequency will be up for grabs in the future. Gábor Csabai, also known as ‘Papó’ described that they are devastated by the announcement. He explained that they knew that the frequency needs to be renewed every seven years, and they expected this decision; however, the press knew about it sooner than they did. They did not get any notifications in writing at the time. Since the frequency stays free, they are able to apply for it again.

Going Silent

On 25 April they announced that they will apply for the frequency, however, there is nothing certain. They wrote that there are two paths ahead of them: They either win the frequency or they do not. Either way, on 3 September, they will have to turn off their broadcasting devices – since their current contract will expire. They added that even if they do not win the application, they will continue to broadcast online in the future. ‘In our radio’s history there has been silence more than once. In every case, we came back stronger and more excited than ever. It will happen again!’, they finished the announcement.

Whether the radio wins the application for the frequency or not, once they disappear from the air, it will close down a prominent chapter in Hungarian radio history. The way they started out illegally, grabbing the attention of the residents of the capitol, turning themselves into a legal business creating shows like no other – is arguably the most inventive practice ever done in Hungarian radio. One thing is sure, many will be sad to see the frequency go.

The first radio channel in Hungary considered independent and free will go silent on September 3.