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Mutual conspiracy charges over new news channel

July 28th, 2013

While a pro-government daily speculates that Sanoma plans to launch an anti-government TV show, a left-liberal weekly accuses the authors of Stalinist style paranoia.

Magyar Narancs’s editorial blog ridicules Magyar Nemzet’s story on “a new anti-government newscast” as a media conspiracy-theory, in pure Stalinist style. The author believes Story TV, a cable company owned by Sanoma, a Finnish media company is about to launch a news programme which will be more serious than the average. They may even hire some of the journalists fired from public television under the new regime, such as András Bárdos and György Baló, who might be undesirable for some, but who at least have never played the role of ’microphone stands’ pro-government anchors are expected to perform, Magyar Narancs remarks. The author also accuses Magyar Nemzet of “living on (former Fidesz party cashier) Lajos Simicska’s money and public advertisements” and finds it revolting that “they want to stifle any outlet which does not play their tune”.

Magyar Nemzet wrote in an exclusive unsigned piece on Thursday, July 25 that Sanoma CEO György Szabó, “who has excellent left-wing relations” has decided to re-invigorate his company’s soppy television channel Story4, to get back at PM Orbán because of the planned tax on advertisement revenues. (See BudaPost May 29). The pro-government daily does not comment on the names of the two main figures involved in the new program, which is scheduled to start broadcasting on August 20, Hungary’s national holiday, but those names are well-known to the right-wing audience. András Bárdos was fiercely criticised by their press back in 2003, when it turned out that while on holiday from TV2 where he was the main news anchor, he had spent New Year’s Eve . György Baló, a former leading journalist at MTV Public Television is also on the ‘black list’ of the right wing as a former liberal party candidate for the presidency of the public TV station. Reporting on a meeting of major media players at a Budapest restaurant, the author asserts that the plan of the news channel is obviously aimed at reviling PM Orbán and his government before the elections, all the more so since Story4’s news program will only feature a few, well-researched daily items, which Magyar Nemzet believes will certainly be opinion pieces. Although the meeting was about the advertisement supertax, Magyar Nemzet’s source claims “there were two items of a political nature on the agenda”. Dirk Gerkens (CEO of RTL Klub, the number one nationwide TV channel) suggested that agencies should not buy media slots in the right-wing media, the paper reports, adding that since media agencies hold all the cards, such a move would be tantamount to politically motivated pressure.  Magyar Nemzet also alleges that Sanoma chief György Szabó “who holds a degree from a Moscow university,” urged participants to focus on news which is unfavourable to the government.

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