Echo TV to go off air in April, merge into Hír TV

Government

Government-friendly conservative channel Echo TV will cease independent operations starting April 2019 and become part of the similarly pro-government Hír TV, with several of Echo TVʼs programs set to be continued after the merger, news portal Index.hu reports.

The decision was announced via a post on Hír TVʼs website, which added that while Hír TVʼs profile and values remain unchanged, the channel expects its programming to be "more colorful, richer in content, and executed on a higher technical level."

Both channels operate under the aegis of the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), the vast centralized media conglomerate incorporating pro-government media outlets in Hungary, established late last year. The decision to merge the channels was made by the board of KESMA, in line with measures taken this year to make various media outlets more cost-effective and their operations more optimized.

Echo TV was acquired in 2016 by key Orbán ally Lőrinc Mészáros, while Hír TV - which had been critical of the government for a period of three years after owner Lajos Simicska had a major falling out with his former friend and ally, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán - reverted to its pro-government stance in the wake of last yearʼs general elections. The Fidesz landslide victory resulted in Simicska giving up several of his interests in Hungary, including Hír TV and the daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet, which has since been resurrected as a firmly pro-Fidesz publication.

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