Commentators agree that RTL Klub, the leading commercial TV channel has launched a harsh anti-government reporting campaign in retaliation for the new advertisement tax.
Since the introduction of the ads tax (see BudaPost June 13) RTL Klub has been airing news reports highly critical of the Orbán cabinet.
On Index, András Földes finds it disappointing that RTL Klub, known for its focus on celebrity news and cheap sensationalism, has started to air serious news and investigative reports critical of the government only after the government introduced a media advertisement tax. Földes suggests that the commercial channel wants to blackmail the government, and RTL Klub would happily abandon serious political reporting and stop being critical of the government in return for paying less tax.
Press freedom died in Hungary long ago, Népszava‘s Tamás Mészáros writes. The left-wing commentator believes that the punitive advertisement tax targeting RTL Klub is a sequel to the government’s campaign against independent media. Mészáros recalls that the Orbán government did everything to silence the left-wing Klubrádió (see BudaPost through December 27, 2011), to dominate public TV and radio channels and help pro-government media outlets through covert financial subsidies.
RTL Klub’s retaliation campaign against the advertisement tax suggests that under the previous left-wing governments, the commercial TV channel refrained from proper investigative reporting in return for not being taxed, Zsolt Bayer comments in Magyar Hírlap. The pro-government pundit claims that those who accuse the government of curtailing press freedom through the introduction of the media ads tax are contradicting themselves. Instead of complaining about less press freedom, they should celebrate the new tax which has in one day transformed RTL Klub from an apolitical tabloid TV into a staunch critic of the government.