Emmis Loses Appeal Of Loss Of Hungarian Radio License In International Tribunal
April 21, 2014 at 4:31 AM (PT)
An international tribunal has ruled against EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS in its case against HUNGARY for the loss of its license for SLÁGER RÁDIÓ in 2009. EMMIS and another Hungarian station operator, MEM MAGYAR ELECTRONIC MEDIA KERESKEDELMI ÉS SZOLGÁLTATÓ KFT., appealed the loss of their licenses to the INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR SETTLEMENT OF INVESTMENT DISPUTES (ICSID), which ruled in HUNGARY's favor.
SLÁGER lost its bid for its frequency after a bill to renew the license was vetoed by the nation's President and declared unconstitutional, and the frequencies subsequently opened for competitive bidding. SLÁGER contended that the process was "tainted by political partisanship" and that the winning bidders had conflicts of interest and "unfeasible business plans."
The tribunal agreed with HUNGARY's contention that SLÁGER had no proprietary rights after 2009 but instead just a license to operate and no assets or property relating to the grant of a new broadcasting license; the ruling held that SLÁGER did not own "an investment capable of expropriation," citing EMMIS' own SEC filings saying, "Broadcast licenses in many foreign countries do not generally confer the same renewal expectancy as U.S. radio stations broadcast licenses. For instance, Hungarian broadcast law is silent as to the treatment of broadcast licenses after the expiration of the first license renewal period" and not attaching a value to SLÁGER's license after 2009.