The Strategist

Viktor Orban's opponent is closing the last opposition newspaper in Hungary

04/11/2018 - 12:14

A former supporter of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who became his worst enemy, Lajos Simicska is actually closing its media empire. The daily newspaper and radio station will stop working this week, the TV company is cutting staff, and the socio-political weekly newspaper is invited to look for new investors.

Viktor Orban. Photo by European People's Party via flickr
Viktor Orban. Photo by European People's Party via flickr
The victory of Viktor Orban in the parliamentary elections in Hungary means that he will preserve the control over the country for another four years. This fact forced his main opponent, Lajos Simicska, to actually destroy his media empire. This was reported by the Hungarian media and Bloomberg agency referring to the holding's units themselves. 

It follows from a message posted on the website of Magyar Nemzet, which is part of the holding, its latest issue will be released on Wednesday. Now the editorial staff is working on it. The newspaper has been published since 1938 and was considered one of the most influential in the country.

At midnight, the broadcasting company Lanchid Radio, which has been operating since 2007, will stop broadcasting. According to the Hungarian media, full-time TV channel Hir TV, which belongs to Lajos Simicska , will continue its work, but the staff will be reduced. Finally, Heti Valasz weekly newspaper, existing since 2001, appears to leave the media empire of Lajos Simicska. His management is invited, as the news portal reports, to look for a new investor.

Mr. Simicska was one of the most active supporters of Viktor Orban. They, however, quarreled in 2015, after which Mr. Simicska re-oriented all his media assets to the opposition and strongly supported efforts of journalists of his publications to investigate corruption cases in Mr. Orban's entourage.

Lajos Simicska's current decision practically leaves the country without opposition media. In 2016, the main opposition newspaper of the country Nepszabadsag, once the organ of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party that ruled the country, was bought by Mr. Orban's supporters and closed. The Prime Minister's supporters were buying up regional newspapers in the same way.

Hungary went down in the world index of press freedom from 23rd to 71st place in 2017 after Mr. Orban's return to power in 2010 (he had already been the country's prime minister from 1998 to 2002).