Left-wing dailies report that the Government has made a deal with the German owners of Hungary’s increasingly critical No. 1 commercial TV station and thus removed a thorn from German-Hungarian relations a few days before Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Budapest.
444 reported on Monday that the government was seeking an agreement with Bertelsmann Ltd, the German owner of RTL Klub on sharply reducing the Ads Tax imposed on the most profitable TV station last year in exchange for a promise to soften the tone RTL News has adopted since then. (For the history of the Ads Tax conflict see BudaPost 2013 through 2014.) In Népszava on Wednesday, Róbert Friss was inclined to believe that what he called “a dirty secret pact” was to be concluded. On Thursday, both Népszava and Népszabadság took it for granted that an agreement was reached between János Lázár, the Cabinet Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office and Andreas Rudas, Regional Vice Chairman of RTL Group. The special tax on advertisements paid by RTL Klub will be reduced from 50 to 5 per cent, and RTL Klub will be softer in its news reports on government and Fidesz officials, Népszava writes. The daily believes the government confronted Mr Rudas with documents about “delicate aspects of his personal business activities”. Népszabadság reports that German businesses active in Hungary may have lobbied in favour of the Hungarian government in Berlin and the Chancellery may have suggested to RTL “that it consider accepting the deal”.