A Hungarian lawmaker from the country’s ruling party has put forward a proposal for an additional high level of tax on media advertising.
The Hungarian Advertising Association said it was shocked by the tax which would be on revenue, not profit, even though much of Hungary’s media operates at a loss, or with just small profits.
Critics called it an attempt by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban to undermine RTL Hungary, the country’s largest broadcaster .. which would end up paying about half of the total tax revenues.
RTL – which government supporters have tried, and failed, to buy a stake in – called it “unprecedented in Europe”.
RTL and TV2, the two largest TV channels, plan to go off air for 15 minutes on Thursday in protest.
Even pro-government media organisations have spoken out against the idea.
The euronews Budapest business correspondent Doloresz Katanich said: “It is not the first time the government has tried to launch an advertising tax, but previously it gave up. The projected tax revenue raised would have little effect on the budget, but would seriously impact Hungary’s biggest commercial TV station. Companies close to the government had in the past unsuccessfully tried to buy a stake in that broadcaster.”