Silly Season Has Come to an End: The Hungarian Media Market Experiences Groundbreaking Changes
Rumors of the acquisition of Lajos Simicska’s media empire by Fidesz friendly enterprises have been spreading since July. Today the last, and strongest, unit of Simicska’s media portfolio has officially become government-friendly once again.
The pro-government Magyar Idők stated that the acquisition is justified, as the Fidesz party’s official stance on the matter is that the media portfolio belonged to them until Simicska stole it from the right-wing voters.
Simicska’s downfall began with the notorious 2015 G-day – when he publicly, and graphically, insulted Viktor Orbán. Prior to the shocking incident, Simicska worked closely with the PM during his second term. From 2010 to 2014, Közgép, Simicska’s construction company, was a favorite of railway and highway consortiums. No official explanation has come to light as to why the relationship ended, but since 2015 the businessman hasn’t received any government procurement.
Simicska’s media brands were the first to close, which notably included the Hungarian version of the international Metro newspaper. The biggest hit came when Class Fm, the nationwide broadcast radio, wasn’t granted the rights to their frequency. Due to this decision, Class Fm lost 2.2 million listeners and moved online. Over the years many battles have been waged over Simicska’s businesses, with most ending in the government’s favor.
The failed relationship motivated the businessman to seek out a new partnership in politics; this led Simicska to form a bond with Jobbik President, Gábor Vona. Months before the 2018 election, his media companies openly supported Jobbik. However, after Fidesz won by a landslide, Simicska immediately started to downsize his media enterprises. First, he closed the 80-year-old political daily, Magyar Nemzet. Later, he stopped financing political magazine Heti Válasz, but left management with the opportunity to find new investors.
Fidesz’s take over was predictable as Simicska handed all of his companies over to a former associate named Zsolt Nyerges. According to newspaper reports, Nyerges acted solely as a middleman in the transaction – his neutrality in the situation making him the perfect person to do so.
The “new management” of Hir Tv: Gábor Liszkay, Péter Szikszai, Katalin . Via: 444.hu
Today, the rumors were confirmed when Gábor Liszkay and the former management of Hír TV met with the new buyer and discussed the impending changes. Two of the loudest critics of the government, Olga Kálmán and Sándor Csintalan, have already left the channel. The futures of their co-workers and the channel itself remain uncertain.
Interestingly enough, other significant media announcements have been made today. Zoom.hu’s editor, András Murányi, has also left his post. Following the Fidesz Party’s forced closure of Népszabadság, Zoom.hu was created by the former editorial staff of the newspaper. The Jobbik favoring N1 television staff also resigned today. Gábor Borokai, the editor of Heti Válasz, has rejected the rumors suggesting he plans to leave his position at the newspaper after the events at Hír TV.