Silencing the media: Hír TV

I have noticed in the last month or so that Fidesz and the Orbán government are paying far too much attention to Hír TV, which has gone through quite a metamorphosis since February 6, 2015, the day known in Hungary as G-Day . It was on that day that Lajos Simicska told the world that Viktor Orbán and he had parted ways. Moreover, he called Orbán “geci,” which I “politely” translated at the time as “prick.” In the original it was much worse. After this day Simicska’s daily paper Magyar Nemzet, his radio station Lánchíd Rádió, and his television station Hír TV, ceased to be government mouthpieces. I must say that, as a result, the quality of Magyar Nemzet and Hír TV has vastly improved. It is another matter that one can only marvel at the “ideological flexibility” of those reporters who remained, because the change from a pro- to an anti-government stance took place practically overnight.

The loss of Hír TV must have been a heavy blow to the Orbán government, which it tried to redress by getting Andy Vajna, the former American-Hungarian movie producer, to purchase TV2, a commercial station that serves the whole country. Although the producers of TV2’s newscast have been doing their best to tarnish the opponents of the government, Viktor Orbán is still not satisfied. At least this is the impression I got when I heard that Gábor Széles, a far-right Fidesz supporter, was ready to sell his Echo TV to Lőrinc Mészáros. With the change of ownership, the work of making Echo TV, a formerly right-radical station, into a replacement for Hír TV began. At the same time, Fidesz is doing its best to squeeze Simicska’s Hír TV financially.

Hír TV was Fidesz’s channel from the moment of its inception in January 2003. The first president of the company was the same Gábor Borókai who had been the government spokesman of the first Orbán government (1998-2002). Many of the channel’s early reporters actually ended up working for the government after 2010. In October 2015 Péter Tarr, deputy CEO of Hír TV, admitted that “members of the government’s communication team visited the station at least once a week in order to give instructions” to those responsible for the ideological content of the station. By 2007 Hír TV could reach 2.1 million households.

After G-Day, many of the top brass both at Magyar Nemzet and HírTV left, among them the staff of “Célpont” (Target), who were investigative journalists. For a while this very popular weekly program was off the air. Now, however, it is back, and rumor has it that considerable effort, financial and otherwise, is being expended to make it HírTV’s flagship program, alongside Olga Kálmán’s forthcoming interview show. Given the incredible corruption surrounding the present government, a program of this sort is certainly a good investment, especially since ATV doesn’t have the financial resources to include such a show in its programming lineup.

Distressed by all these changes at Hír TV, Fidesz and the Orbán government moved into action. Even earlier, the Fidesz leadership had forbidden members of the government and high officials of the party to accept invitations from Hír TV. Now they are putting pressure on cable companies, suggesting that they drop Hír TV from their offerings. One company, PR-Telecom, obliged and announced that as of January 1, they had dropped Hír TV along with six other, mostly foreign-language, channels. At the same time the company announced that 14 new channels will be available, among them six that are owned by Andy Vajna. While they were at it, the company picked up two porn channels as well. The majority stakeholder in PR-Telecom is an off-shore company in Malta, Central Eastern Cable & Media Group Limited, whose owner is the same man in whose yacht Lőrinc Mészáros was seen in the harbor of Zadar last summer. What a coincidence, don’t you think?

Soon enough Magyar Nemzet discovered that PR-Telekom had received state aid to the tune of 3.3 billion forints a couple of months before the cable company informed Hír TV of its decision to break its contract. The grant (and it’s an outright grant, not a loan) for improvements of the company’s network in certain regions of the country came from money Hungary had received from the European Union. This is how the EU is unwittingly aiding the undemocratic policies of the Orbán government. Luckily, not all is lost as far as Hír TV is concerned. Since the cable company’s breach of contract was illegal, those subscribers who would like to switch service providers can do so without any penalty. At least this is what Hír TV claims on its website.

Meanwhile Hír TV has been hiring people right and left. Some of them came from the defunct Népszabadság, others from the state television. The government mouthpiece, Magyar Idők, has been watching all this with a certain amount of apprehension. Its articles talked about the alleged tension within Hír TV because the same Péter Tarr who earlier had complained about government interference in its programming now announced that the channel will be even more “critical of the government.” The newspaper provided a long list of reporters who have already joined or will join Simicska’s cable network.

The government-sponsored Pesti Srácok learned that Simicska’s partner in Közgép Zrt., Zsolt Nyerges, had announced that he is no longer ready to sacrifice his quite significant wealth on Simicska’s “pointless fight” with Viktor Orbán while their business is dying. Apparently the “discussion” was so vehement that it almost turned into a fist fight. Whether such an encounter happened or not (Nyerges denies that it did), Közgép announced Nyerges’s retirement as CEO and the appointment of Ildikó Vida in his stead. Her name ought to be familiar to the readers of Hungarian Spectrum since she used to be head of the Hungarian Internal Revenue Service. She was suspected of corrupt practices and thus barred by the U.S. government from entering the United States.

Viktor Orbán takes the remaining few opposition electronic media outlets deadly seriously. As it stands, by now there are only two government-critical television channels left in the country. Both can be reached only by cable. Hungarian political observers are convinced that 90% of all media today is in government hands. Yet it seems that 90% is still not enough. Viktor Orbán seems set on silencing all voices critical of his regime.

This reminds me of an article by Ekaterina Shulman, a Russian political scientist, which I read in a Hungarian summary. She called Putin’s Russia a “hybrid regime,” 80 percent propaganda and 20 percent coercion. This description of the leading illiberal democracy also fits the regime Viktor Orbán has built in the last seven years. Even the arch-conservative Batthyány Circle of Professors, which in the past had found the state of the country to be picture perfect, recently called attention to the gap between “appearance and reality,” the former having the upper hand in today’s Hungary. And to sustain appearance and suppress reality a government needs a full pipeline of propaganda with a healthy dose of coercion.

January 16, 2017
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András B. Göllner
Guest

We should be grateful for small mercies. Simicska is as much of a mafioso, as much of a hoodlum as his former pal, Orbán. How long will he be willing to bankroll his personal warfare against Orbán remains to be seen. Nyerges obviously has had enough, God save Hungary should Simicska ever gain power, with Ildikó Vida at his side. Of course, he would extract revenge on his former friend. But an independent and critical media in a Simicska backed regime would have as much chance as a snowball in hell. What do they call the spot, that separates a rock from a hard place ? Hungary ?

Member

I don’t know who Simicska really is.
I think very few people know, he is hiding from public life

But I think, that someone should not be judged too much from his past.
Give him a chance!
People can change.

I am very happy with what I heard of him since G-day.

Someone once said, that he is much happier about a lost sheep that finds back to the herd, than…

Observer
Guest

Winston’s right,
just as the other, famous, one was when saying that hat he would ally himself with the devil, if necessary, to defeat the Nazies.
And, Simcska may be son of a bitch, but he’s now our soab.

Istvan
Guest

I can bet one thing Magyar Nemzet and HírTV will not be doing, and that is investigating Lajos Simicska for his past corrupt deals with Orban particularly involving Kozgep and EU funds. Least we forget that Balint Magyar in his study used Simicska as the prototype oligarch of the Fidesz regime. The great falling out between Orban and Simicska was correctly described by Balint Magyar as “a Mafia war.”

Since Eva made a reference to Putin in her post about Orban trying to turn the screws on Simicska’s media empire I will make one too. Putin must think Orban a very weak leader for not having liquidated Simicska in a deniable manner similar to Boris Berezovsky. After all Simicska is rather fat and a sudden heart attack would indeed be tragic.

Member

See my earlier comment. Do not judge Simicska from the past too much.

Actually, he is one of the few opposing forces in Hungary and that is good!

Istvan
Guest
Even though I am a reasonably good Catholic and by the Catechism I accept the possibility of redemption of all who accept Jesus as their savior, I see nothing in Simicska that indicates he seeks absolution for his crimes against Hungarian society. Simicska carries with him the same self righteous arrogance that many of us find unsettling in Orban, numerous other Fidesz leaders, President elect Trump, or in Putin. Simicska does not want either liberal or conservative democracy in Hungary, he wants a democracy among the oligarchs. Like Trump, and many others, there is a deep belief that those who have economically risen to the top of the heap based on no holds barred intra-capitalist competition are endowed to rule over the drones. Bribes and connections to elected front men are to be accepted as normal as long as they fundamentally respect the acquired wealth of the oligarchs. So actually in my opinion Simicska is not an opposing force to what Orban has been, he might be an opposing force to what Orban is evolving into which seems to be modeled on Putin’s absolute supremacy over his oligarchs, a pretend parliamentary structure, and total hegemony over the media. But Simicska… Read more »
webber
Guest

The way to redemption:
Simicska now stands against power – against a power that could destroy him, and he knows that better than most.
Surely there is some room in redemption for such a man, regardless of his past?

Istvan
Guest

He stands for a power shift, back to the balance he liked. He deserves credit only for being so individually wealthy that he believes he can protect himself from Orban, probably delusional if Orban takes the advice of Putin on how to deal with oligarchs.

webber
Guest

Simicska said in one of the very few interviews he gave that he might pay for his life because of his opposition to Orban now.
So, delusional? Will you admit he has the possibility of redemption only when he has died?

Ferenc
Guest

Where can these interviews be found?

webber
Guest

Online, but only in Hungarian. Simicska interjú brings a lot of stuff up. You can hear Simicska’s voice, if you’re interested. He swears a lot.
Here’s a link with the following sentence from Simicska: “They’ll wipe me out, shoot me, I’ll be hit by a car.”
http://24.hu/belfold/2015/02/06/simicska-lajos-kinyirnak-lelonek-elut-egy-auto/
Enjoy.

Istvan
Guest

That Webber is up to the Lord.

webber
Guest

I, too, believe, and so naturally my question was not about eternal judgment. I don’t believe any human can answer that.

So, since we’ve clarified that, it should now also be clear that I meant your personal judgment here on earth. I mean redemption in the eyes of man, not of God.

petofi
Guest

Simicska is a dolt. He’s carried away with the remembrance of his power at its height. He’s not got the wit to look over yonder to Moscow and see what had happened to the oligarchs who came into
Pyutin’s target zone…

Member

Istvan: ” Simicska carries with him the same self righteous arrogance that many of us find unsettling in Orban, numerous other Fidesz leaders, President elect Trump, or in Putin.”

Excactly, this is what I don’t know.
If You just take a look at these Fideszniks as Òrban, Lázár, Rogan, etc. and maybe listen to them once, it is clear that these people are evil criminals and You can never ever expect something good from them, because it is their personality (character) that is rotten.

If I See these few photos of Simicska, I don’t see this arrogance. There is a rumour, that he throwed over with Orban after the 2014 election, because he didn’t like the affinity to Putin and the complete dismantelling of democracy.
Maybe I am wrong.

One word to seeking redemption: I don’t expect someone to fullfill Jesus’ demands. For me, It would be O.K., if we all respect the democratic laws, the human rights and have a bit empathy for people, that are suffering a bit more than we do.

In Jesus’ view, we all are almost as rich as Simicska:
The camel is equally big. The eye in the needle is equally tiny.

webber
Guest

That Simicska dumped Orban because of what Orban planned to do to democracy and with Russia is not a rumor. It is precisely what Simicska said in the interview in which he said he might end up dead. He said Orban informed him that this was what would happen, and he decided he had to resist this.

The only “rumor” involved is that spread by Fidesz fanatics who claim Fidesz is still democratic (I kid you not – such people actually exist, and some are intelligent) and so cast doubt on what Simicska said and everything he does these days.

You would think such people would suffer from mental collapse – before the break with Orban, they protected Simicska, and said he was just doing what needed to be done, now they say he’s corrupt…. Complete insanity.

There is just no coherence among Fidesz lovers.

petofi
Guest

@ webber

“…mental collapse..”

You’d be surprised what a great support and prop are the billions of forints that these boys have access to-

Observer
Guest

Winston,

FYI Simicska was the money man fueling the Fidesz rise and making himself rich at the same time in a vile symbiosis. (Orban the top capi of his mafia got rich in the same scheme). He introduced some patterns of sophistication in place of the primitive looting of yore (eg. Kisgazda part).

Actually this holds back both belligerents from a total war, there are too many common dirty shirts.

Ferenc
Guest

So now they’re trying to hide their dirt?
It’s possible that OV thinks he has done that sufficiently now and ready for the war. The first skirmishes are targetted at Simicska, so OV thinks he has everything in position!

Member

With much respect for Eva, I find myself agreeing with Istvan on this point. Lajos Simicska has not had an Anakin Skywalker moment. If he had, he would have done something about Emperor Palpatine by now.
My guess is that Orban cannot dispose of Simicska because he knows too much. I assume they arrived at some sort of understanding along the lines of “If anything happens to me, those Polaroids are going straight to Blikk.”

Guest

I think that the political an social situation in Hungary is totally beyond repair and will remain so for decades to come.

Even if by some miracle Orbán and his gang got tipped out of power in 2018, they would make the country absolutely ungovernable for whichever outfit took their place in government.

petofi
Guest

@ambalint

I would agree: Hungaria is a goner. And Orban can’t even scratch his balls without permission from the basement boys.

Somehow, Hungary’s present fate tinkles my sense of poetic justice.

Hajra Magyarok!

Observer
Guest

Ambalint
Technically there are tested solutions for “deorbanisation” of the state and for crushing Orban’s oligarchy. (I am not talking about the Erdogan brutalities).

The main necessary condition, however, is political will, and this one is pretty doubtful.
The rest is money and determination (not 12 million Ft and not Keller Làszlò). I would volunteer.

Member

The literal equivalent of “geci” in English would be “gissom” or “jism.” But the spirit of the expletive is much better conveyed by “scumbag.”

All these tributes fit Orban to a T, and Trump too. Both cannot bear to be dissed. That thin skin may prove their undoing, as they are off-script when they are settling scores instead of increasing their power and wealth.

Orban doesn’t indulge in Trump’s immediate penchant for toxic tweeting to get even, but both share (with Putin) the more sinister urge to smear or silence “enemies.”
comment image

Guest

Doesn’t Class FM, which went silent in November, belong to Simicska as well?

Ferenc
Guest

Yep, and their most favourite show (The Morning Show) first stopped and then moved (slightly renamed, but same team) over to Vajna’s new radio station……

Member

I used to listen to Class FM until recently (November 19.) when driving in the car.
The station wasn’t exactly my taste, but it was the only one.

Now I don’t listen to the radio anymore when driving.
The reception of Lánchíd rádio is very poor were I live (Veszprém megye, Balaton), Klubrádio? no way).

Istvan
Guest
Relevant to the world of oligarchs. In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an article titled “A Trade War With China Could Lead to Shooting.” Finally conservatives in the USA are starting to grasp that President elect Trump wasn’t just talking out of school about strategically crushing China’s communist party controlled oligarchy both economically and militarily. Orban and his crew seem not to understand any of this, let alone Trump’s strategic attempt to neutralize Russia by concessions so as to be able to focus maximum pressure on China. The Islamic State is but a side show to the bigger conflict looming that the Wall Street Journal focused on today. I have to say that it is deeply disturbing to me that there are significant elements in the US military who are willing to risk war with China. There is again rumblings in the military of preventive action against China before their power becomes to large to contain. General Mattis (Sec of Defense designate ), at least in his confirmation hearings presented a balanced perspective. But he is a patriot and if the possibility of a conflict with China looms he will make preparations to win that conflict. God help us… Read more »
Guest

Not too much OT:
http://imgur.com/FZBbHkU

Matt_L
Guest

yeah, a war between China and the USA is just nuts. Seeking a preventative war with China is even crazier. It doesn’t matter if General Mattis is a patriot. Gen. Conrad von Hutzendorf was a patriot too. Look how well that turned out.

Ferenc
Guest
Wanted to know more about PR-Telecom and HIR TV, found this: data of Széchenyi 2020 winners – https://palyker.fair.gov.hu/?page=nyertes_lista (and please don’t laugh about the url name) Under item GINOP-3.4.1-15 (new generation NGA and ….. net development), an enormous list of companies ‘won’ subsidies (incl.PR-Telecom), seems all are about development of the existing telephone network for future internet (so nothing for development of TV-cable networks!). The biggest winner is: Magyar Telekom (10.5 BFt), followed by MVM NET (8.0 BFt), PR-Telecom (3.3 BFt), TARR Épitő (2.5 BFt), Vidékháló (2.5 BFt), Invitel (2.0 BFt), and so on. It’s not impossible that PR-Telecom ‘won’ more than their ‘fair’ share of the whole pie, but I honestly can’t judge that. To me now, after finding the above info, the connection claimed by HIR TV between the ‘won’ subsidies and the scrapping by PR-Telecom seems too far fetched. Nevertheless the scrapping of HIR TV by PR-Telecom doesn’t make any sense from a ‘normal’ business point of view, so I suspect there is something else behind all of this. But what? Something from the past? Probably Simicska could give the answer, but so far he’s not willing to open up…..yet…… But Lajos please do so and tell… Read more »
Guest

If something bad happens to Simicska he will begin to talk from the beyond via his collections of documents stashed away in bank boxes out of reach of Orban.

Ferenc
Guest

OT: Ahmed H sentenced to 10 years (on 2016.Nov.30)

New video about Ahmed’s case by Amnesty International:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Fh0HpRD2xM

Am.Int. also started a petition requesting a.o.his release, details at http://www.amnesty.hu/eset/ahmed, just at least think about signing it
PS: just found out about this petition when checking HIR TV’s website………..

webber
Guest

Even Hungarian “terrorists” are third rate…

webber
Guest

Actually, it should be – Even Hungary’s terrorists are fake. (kamu).

webber
Guest

Meanwhile, Orban’s friend, that lunatic in Turkey, has declared that “there is no difference between a terrorist with a gun and a terrorist with dollars, euros, … interest”
So Erdogan claims people who exchange lots of Turkish lira into hard currency are terrorists.
If he follows through, a lot of people are going to prison for terrorism in Turkey in the near future. Lots of such “terrorists” can be found in Turkish markets, for instance.
Törökország jobban teljesít.

webber
Guest

Ferenc
Guest

Sorry webber, but these are not helpful comments

webber
Guest

Meant solely as a joke – perhaps a bad one. Of course the man is not a terrorist. He is a victim.
But what can one do? Only humor is left.

Ferenc
Guest

What can one do?
-check and sign the petition
-contact Amnesty Int.Hungary and ask them with what you can help (if you want to help)
-inform other people about this case

Ferenc
Guest

Clarification: my comment is about your first comments about Hungary, not the later ones about Turkey.

webber
Guest

I understood that. I hope you understand that I mean that Orban’s Hungary has created a “terrorist” out of a person who has nothing to do with terrorism. Kamuország.

Observer
Guest

Webber

Has a good point and a very relevant one, e.g.:

The newly formed Orban pretorian guard are called TEK – Counter-Terror Center.

Migrants (never refugees) are constantly verbally associated with terrorists.

Many of the regime’s power grabbing measures are dressed up as a efforts against terrorism, e.g. the most significant being this years’ failed basic law amendment bill (didn’t get the qualified 2/3 majority).

Protesters, NGOs are also associated with terrorists. Even the persons who hacked/doctored the Orban speach were called verbal terrorists.

The Ministry of Truth keeps working.

Ferenc
Guest

Am.Int. case study incl.Ahmed H. (in English):
https://amnesty.app.box.com/s/opsjc0mvayt4rcnw2lwe8mqrqvkar56d

Member

András Bencsik, Zsolt Bayer and others are apparently going to be speaking at the Ronald Reagan statue on Freedom Square on Friday evening in support of Trump during his inauguration: https://www.facebook.com/events/380733332281036/

Ferenc
Guest

The WHAT??? Is there such a statue, in Budapest????
Immediately searched, and yes there really is. Flabbergasted!!

Ferenc
Guest

About the event (from facebook link):
Organizers: ‘56 Lángja Alapítvány (the flame of ’56 foundation) – Hungarian TV Magazine of New York (???)
Web: BetterWorldOrder.com (………)
I think Nagy Imre just turned away in his grave, don’t know if the above bunch care

Observer
Guest

Is there any whistle brigade organized? I have a whistle.

Observer
Guest

The site is typical Absurdistan. The known bunch of hate mongering fascists with some loony (bogaros) sidekicks.
No wonder they talk about strong leaders, weakling democracies, new world order, etc. Sounds familiar from modern history ?

Guest

Is this reported in the Hungarian media too?
http://bbj.hu/budapest/scottish-expats-help-homeless-refugees-in-hungary_127480
The Caledonia Scottish Pub in Budapest has been offering thousands of hot meals for the homeless and refugees in Hungary, as the country has been facing unusually extreme low temperatures this winter, according to reports.

U.K. Ambassador to Hungary Iain Lindsay OBE and his wife Bridget also joined to help make and distribute the meals.

Caledonia is reported to be distributing 250-300 portions per night.
One of the nights was backed by Tesco Budapest, according to reports,
which provided ingredients as a way of sponsoring the initiative, which
is expected to last as long as the weather stays extremely cold.

Thanks for your human kindness!

At the same time somewhere else in Hungary:
http://bbj.hu/politics/police-recruits-border-hunters-in-secondary-schools_127423
The Hungarian Police is recruiting so-called “border hunters”, a contingent of border patrols, in secondary schools, an announcement on the official police.hu website suggests.
Do they give them guns to “hunt”?

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