Government-critical TV news channel confirms layoffs


The Hungarian media landscape has been changing rapidly since the general elections on April 8. Following the shutdown of broadsheet daily Magyar Nemzet and radio station Lánchíd, news channel Hír TV announced layoffs on Tuesday, while last week bilingual news portal Budapest Beacon also closed down.

Magyar Nemzet, Lánchíd and Hír TV all belong to the media interests of businessman Lajos Simicska, a former friend and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The two parted ways acrimoniously in early 2015, and the media controlled by Simicska, until then openly pro-government, became critical of Orbán and the ruling parties, Fidesz and the Christian Democrats (KDNP).

The media group controlled by Simicska announced last week the closing of 80-year-old daily Magyar Nemzet and Lánchíd, citing financial losses. The group also hinted at major cost cuts at Hír TV.

Hír TV released a statement on Tuesday in which it announced layoffs in several areas, including management. The statement does not say specifically how many, but online news portal estimates the number to be around 30-40. Popular programs will be continued, Hír TV added.

Also last week, the Budapest Beacon, an online Hungarian and English-language news portal strongly critical of the government, announced it was closing down due to "the severe erosion of media plurality in Hungary."

In an exit interview, the siteʼs managing editor Richard Field noted that "the closure and/or purchase of a number of independent media outlets by pro-Fidesz businessmen makes it increasingly difficult for us to source accurate, reliable news about what is really happening in Hungary." The full exit interview is available here.


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