Switching sides? Ex-chief of RTL would lead govʼt-friendly TV2

Deals

Dirk Gerkens, who oversaw news coverage that was critical of the government as CEO of Hungarian TV channel RTL Klub, would take charge of TV2, a channel that is expected to be government friendly if it is owned by Andrew G. Vajna, the government commissioner for the Hungarian film industry, online daily origo.hu reported today.

According to origo.hu, the rumor was confirmed by both Gerkens and Vajna. Early today Vajna, who made his name producing Hollywood films, was confirmed as the buyer of TV2 Group, which consists of four television channels.

In a surprise twist, a report later this evening put Vanjaʼs purchase into question.

RTL Klub and TV2 are the two biggest competitors among commercial channels in Hungary. Gerkens left RTL Klub in March after speculation earlier this year that RTL Group might agree to replace Gerkens if the government agreed to lower the advertising tax.

The government later proposed a new, lower tax, and RTL Group also announced that Gerkens would be assigned to a position outside of Hungary, but both the government and the TV station denied that a deal was made.

Under Gerkens’ leadership since 2001, RTL became the leading TV channel in Hungary. Gerkens was supposed to continue to work for German RTL Group in a senior executive position, according to reports in March. 

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