Television personality Antónia Mészáros announced last night that she will be leaving ATV – and the media business in general – to take over as CEO of UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, in Hungary.
Mészáros has worked at BBC, covering foreign affairs and serving as a correspondent from Kosovo and Iraq. She also worked in Hungary’s public media from 2006, until being sacked in 2011 and joining ATV.
According to 444, ATV host Egon Rónai will replace Mészáros over the summer until autumn, when former government commissioner and television personality Zsuzsa Demcsák may take over ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd (Straight Talk) nightly news show.
Mészáros’ sudden departure from ATV after six years will no doubt raise further concern about the editorial direction at a channel once considered Hungary’s last opposition television station. In December 2016, Egyenes Beszéd‘s longtime host Olga Kálmán departed from ATV. Kálmán went over to Lajos Simicska’s HírTV, where she hosts Egyenes, a show that competes in the same timeslot as Egyenes Beszéd.
ATV’s ownership structure is closely tied to Hungary’s Faith Church, a Pentecostal group with increasingly close ties to the government. During the refugee crisis, the Faith Church actively promoted the government’s positions on both migration and the resettlement of vetted refugees.
Szilárd Németh, CEO of ATV, is the son of Faith Church founder and lead pastor Sándor Németh. In 2016 he flatly denied to mediapiac.com that there is any legitimacy to conspiracy theories ATV made a pact with ruling party Fidesz in exchange for the church’s state-recognized status.