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Former Ambassador to US Takes over Pro-Fidesz Media Holding

Ábrahám Vass 2020.04.16.

Hungary’s former ambassador to Washington D.C., László Szabó, has been appointed to take over pro-Fidesz media holding Mediaworks, after former director Gábor Liszkay decided to step down. Szabó will also be included in the presidency of KESMA, a government-funded foundation controlling most right-wing outlets.

About his departure, Liszkay, one of the master-minds behind the Fidesz-friendly media from the beginning, said “In 2018, I was appointed by the board of the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA) to organize a holding from the media companies owned by the foundation that is capable of efficient and sustainable operation  (…) I have completed the task I have undertaken, so my mandate has expired.”

Szabó, a physician by profession, announced last week that he would be leaving his post in the US capital “after accepting a position in the economic sector.” With years of experience working for multinational drugmakers around the world, he was named State Secretary, then Deputy Minister of the Foreign Ministry in 2014. He took up his post as ambassador in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2017. According to the foreign ministry’s state secretary Tamás Menczer, Szabó has played a key role in strengthening Hungarian-US relations over the past few years.

The pro-Fidesz conglomeration, Mediaworks, consists of almost 500 media outlets, including, for example, Magyar Nemzet, Figyelő, Ripost, Világgazdaság, and almost all the regional daily news sources in the country. Since December 2018, it has been working under the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA) which gathers most pro-government outlets, and where former owners offered to give their assets for free at the time of establishment, and has drawn much controversy.

featured image: László Szabó; via Tamás Kovács/MTI