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Gov’t to dump MT after telco objects to remarks on women

Apparently retaliating for Magyar Telekom’s decision to pull sponsorship of a pop singer who said women should be paid less than men, Hungaryʼs government has instructed all ministries and their supporting institutions to cancel their contracts with the telecom, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács told MTI today.

Zoltán Kovács at yesterdayʼs press conference with Cabinet Chief János Lázár. (Photo: kormany.hu)

Kovács said that mobile internet subscriptions with Magyar Telekom would be cancelled, but the measure would not affect a “strategic partnership agreement” between the government and the telecom. The government, through its ministries and background institutions, currently has 103 different contracts with Magyar Telekom, according to reports.

Kovács was at a press conference yesterday in which Cabinet Chief János Lázár criticized Magyar Telekomʼs move to cancel its contract to sponsor concerts by Hungarian pop singer Ákos. Magyar Telekom said it made the decision after Ákos gave an interview earlier in the week in which he said that women should not earn as much as men and that womenʼs principle role is to make children.

The government has been promoting its pro-family agenda, and singer Ákos’s message that women should focus on raising children instead of working would seem to coincide with that agenda.

Kovács said today that Magyar Telekom’s cancelling of its sponsorship deal with Ákos is against the Hungarian Constitution, Hungarian online daily origo.hu reported. He added that such a thing might possibly happen in Germany but “we believe it is unacceptable that somebody could be discriminated in such a way for their opinions and views”, origo.hu said.

Lázár said yesterday that Magyar Telekom was practicing a “dictatorship of opinion” when it pulled sponsorship of Ákos. “If the government did not agree with Telekomʼs opinion on a specific topic, would it cancel all contracts with them?” Lázár was quoted as asking. Apparently we received an answer to this question today.