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Iconic left-wing TV star switches to HírTV

December 27th, 2016

As Olga Kálmán decides to leave ATV for the formerly pro-Fidesz channel, commentators suggest that in his anti-Orbán drive, HírTV owner Lajos Simicska wants to overtake ATV from the left.

On Pesti Srácok, Szilveszter Szarvas quotes unnamed sources who told him that Mr Simicska, the former Fidesz treasurer who became a sworn enemy of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in early 2015, has embarked on a manoeuvre aimed at overtaking the left-wing opposition TV channel from the left. This is why he lured ATV’s number one political star, Olga Kálmán over to his HírTV. Szarvas writes that similar offers have been made to two other ATV presenters, but both refused. Mr Simicska allegedly offered a higher salary to the new recruits than what he is paying present HírTV staff, Pesti Srácok adds.

Meanwhile, HírTV denied reports that Olga Kálmán would make twice as much as she earned at ATV. The channel said she would be paid less than at her present workplace.

In Magyar Narancs, the owner of ATV denies reports which suggest Olga Kálmán left his channel because ATV was becoming ‘domesticated’ by Fidesz. Sándor Németh, the founding pastor of The Community of the Faith, an evangelist denomination which owns ATV said that “ATV will not fall victim to Fidesz expansionism”. He admits having met Andy Vajna, the pro-government owner of TV2, Hungary’s number two TV Channel, but said that his discussions with the former Hungarian-American film producer were limited to food and Hollywood. He also met Mr Árpád Habony, the Prime minister’s PR advisor, but only fleetingly, he said.

On Mandiner, Péter Farkas Zárug criticises HírTV for giving Olga Kálmán a prime time programme. Zárug, a political analyst who is a regular guest on HírTV talk shows, says the channel will lose its conservative audience by engaging such a markedly left-wing journalist to run its main daily news analysis programme. Zárug remarks that the government side has boycotted HírTV for almost the past two years and therefore finds it completely pointless to entrust the evening news background show to a left-wing star who will thus not be able to exercise her signature questioning skills. HírTV has already been criticised for entertaining good relations with Jobbik leader Gábor Vona. As a result of the new appointment, it will now also stand accused of promoting the left-wing opposition, Zárug fears.