Government denies it routinely dictated content of TV news
The Hungarian government rejected claims by the deputy CEO of commercial HírTV that the station received orders from officials about the topics that the channel could cover and the people it could interview for its news shows, Hungarian online daily origo.hu reports today.
Deputy CEO Péter Tarr said in an interview published the latest issue of Hungarian monthly Kreatív that, before the “Orbán-Simicska war” there were “thousands of connections between the media outlet and the governing party”.
Tarr said that government communication officials attended the channel’s editorial meetings on a “weekly basis” and that the channel needed “permission” for the topics it covered and guests it invited. The disappearance of the government from the TV’s operations has been “a relief”, the deputy CEO said in the interview.
Answering questions by origo.hu, the International Communications Office of the government rejected Tarr’s claims saying that the “government believes in the basic principles of democracy, and therefore in the independent and free press as well”. As for Tarr’s comments, the office said it is “understandable that the management of Hír TV, as their owner is an opponent of the government, is trying to reposition themselves with such maneuvers”.
Hír TV owner Lajos Simicska’s working relationship with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán apparently ended early this year in a public falling out. Since then, Simicska’s firms have not won any public procurement tenders. His biggest construction firm, Közgép Zrt. was banned from government tenders for alleged infractions, and the firm has petitioned to fight the ban in court.
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