BUDAPEST: The Hungarian parliament has passed a new law which will tax advertising revenues up to a top rate of 40 percent, drawing protests from the media.
Industry experts say the tax will especially affect foreign media companies, with RTL Klub, the Hungarian subsidiary of Germany’s RTL TV station, expected to be hit hardest by the progressive tax. An estimated half of the 8 billion HUF expected to be raised by the tax would come from RTL.
Protests swept across the Hungarian media landscape, including resignations, street demonstrations, blank broadcast air time, and blank pages in print media. Media companies say that the tax will be crippling for their businesses.
The right wing government of Hungary has drawn regular scrutiny by media both inside and outside Hungary, and some observers suggested that the tax was a measure meant to control media and news coverage in Hungary, according to international media reports.
The law was easily passed by the Parliament in a vote of 144-30 on Wednesday. The revenues will be earmarked for schools and education funding.