PM confirms talks with RTL Group on ad tax

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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán confirmed that the Hungarian government has been talking with German RTL Group about lowering the advertising tax, but said nothing has been decided yet and added he insists on a revenue of HUF 7-10 bln from the tax, online daily hvg.hu reported late yesterday.

Hungarian daily Népszava reported earlier yesterday that Cabinet Chief János Lázár agreed with Andreas Rudas, regional vice-president of RTL Group, that RTL's Hungarian TV station RTL Klub will soften its criticism of the government in their news show and, in repayment, Hungary's advertisement tax will be capped at 5.3% of revenues.

According to hvg.hu, Orbán said that the meeting in Berlin did take place, and it was held "under pressure from abroad". He said the government will discuss the issue at the upcoming fraction meeting of the ruling Fidesz party in Mezőkövesd on February 4-6. Orbán stressed that the talks with RTL Group were initiated by the German company and not the Hungarian government.

The advertising tax, established in June and apparently aimed at RTL Klub because its news reports had not been sufficiently supportive of the government, is currently capped at 50% for those in the top bracket. RTL Klub is the only media outlet in that top bracket. 

Since the tax was levied, RTL Klub has increased its negative coverage of the government, and enjoyed a massive growth in viewership of its news programs. Nonetheless, officials in RTL Klub and its parent company say it is impossible for RTL Klub to make a profit or break even at the current tax rate.

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