Competition Authority blocks RTLʼs Central Media acquisition

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The Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) has blocked the planned acquisition of Central Digital Media, the online portfolio of Central Médiacsoport, by Magyar RTL Televízió, the biggest commercial television broadcaster in Hungary, according to reports.

The competition office blocked the acquisition, acting on an earlier opinion of the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) refusing the merger in January, arguing that it would intensify the concentration of ownership on the television and digital markets to a degree that would endanger citizensʼ right to diverse sources of information.

Under Hungaryʼs media law, the GVH is compelled to request an authoritative standpoint from the NMHHʼs Media Council, and is obliged to prohibit a merger if the latter refuses to grant its approval of the transaction.

Magyar RTL submitted its application to acquire a 30% stake and management rights in Central Digital Media to the NMHH in October 2016, Hungarian wire service MTI noted. 

RTL Klub, the most prominent channel of the RTL Group, is the chief competitor of commercial television channel TV2, which was recently purchased by Hungarian-American film producer Andrew G. Vajna, the government commissioner for the Hungarian film industry. While RTL has carried news critical of the current government, having clashed with the regime over advertising taxes in the recent past that hit RTL Klub particularly hard and also attracted the attention of the European Commission, TV2 has recently carried pro-government news and a greater number of government announcements.

Central Digital Media is present on the online content and advertising market, MTI recalled. It operates six internet portals, which include general news portals as well as specialized sites for women, health and motorists, MTI added.

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