Three years after businessman Lajos Simicska – who among other things owns a media empire – had an argument with his former ally and friend, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a pro-government shift took place at one of the most watched news channels, Hir TV.
Alongside other media outlets, Hir TV was owned by Lajos Simicska but after the opposition lost the Apri elections the businessman decided to sell his media empire. Of the Simicska-owned outlets that became anti-govt in the last three years, Hir TV was the last to operate. He closed daily Magyar Nemzet and Lanchid Radio in April, weekly Heti Valasz’s last print issue was published on June 7, since then they’re only available in a digital format.
Lajos Simicska sold his media empire to his closest business partner, Zsolt Nyerges who still has good positions with the government circles. He took over the Hir TV on Wednesday, bringing leaders of the pro-government media with him, who will from now on lead the television.
It was already announced that the programme structure is changing, several government-critical programmes are canceled and government-critical anchors are fired. The tendency will probably go on and those employees, anchors and editors who produced government-critical programmes in the last 3 years will be fired.
The new owner Zsolt Nyerges introduced himself to the staff on Wednesday, he thanked Hir TV’s employees for their work and congratulated them, because
“Hir TV maintained its position among the changing conditions of the media market, which is the result of the work of all its employees”.
Nyerges also announced that HirTV’s situation is stable, the channel continues to work, its future is safe. After that the owner said that he doesn’t know the media, he won’t be busy with it, but “as the producing of programmes demands constant attention”, he asked Gabor Liszkay – one of the leaders of the government’s media empire, CEO of the company of businessman Lorinc Meszaros – to be his adviser.
Supporters of the opposition speak about the harm against press freedom, while the government side is celebrating the take-back of the channel, as it was the strongest media supporter of Fidesz before the Orban-Simicska conflict.