Sziget Noise Case Rumbles On

This year’s Sziget Festival won’t be affected by the legal action the mayor of the fourth district of Budapest is bringing against the event over noise, as the result won’t be made public until November.

A July 4 hearing in the Budapest District Court was adjourned because the judge wants to consider the effect of the noise limiters that will be installed at all stages where music is played after 11 p.m.

An earlier hearing in February was also adjourned because the judge admitted to not knowing how loud 62 decibels sounds. The festival has since set up a demonstration and played music that’s been measured at exactly that level.

This is the second time Dr. Tamas Derce, the mayor of Újpest district, has brought a noise case against Sziget. The first was in 2002, which the Budapest District Court threw out because the festival didn’t actually break any noise regs.

"He has eight addresses where he says the sound exceeds the agreed level, but he still hasn’t produced any proof that it’s too loud at any of those locations," said Sziget managing director and co-owner Gabor Takacs.

The outcome of the case could technically affect the sale of the company that organises the festival to media giant Econet.

The deal is potentially worth US$30 million and the first payment – about a quarter of that – has already been made, although Econet is able to pull out if the case doesn’t go well.

The media company doesn’t appear to have too many qualms about that, as it made the first payment despite the fact the noise case is still to be decided.

Takacs is confident that Derce’s action will be filed where the court put the first one and doesn’t see it as being a setback to the Econet deal – which includes Sziget, Volt Festival and Balaton Sound – or the festival’s future.

Sziget has cut this year’s event from eight days to six and will close down the metal stage at 11 p.m. Noise-reducing walls will be built around the loudest stages.

The acts already confirmed for this year’s August 12-17 bill include Iron Maiden, R.E.M., The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Jamiroquai, Babyshambles, Sex Pistols, Alanis Morissette and the Kooks.