Hungary is set to back down over a controversial TV ad tax as a direct result of pressure from the European Commission.

Quoted by BBJ, János Lázár, the country’s cabinet chief, said “The Hungarian government needed to decide whether to be involved in a legal issue with an uncertain outcome or to participate in an beneficial agreement”.

He added that the EC had not criticised the tax itself, but rather the volume. In Austria, for instance, the ad tax of 5% is currently the highest in the EU.

Lázár confirmed that he had been in talks with Bertlesmann, the owner of RTL Klub, the Hungarian broadcaster most affected by the tax, since November.

The tax, introduced in legislation passed last summer, currently requires RTL Klub to pay 50% of its ad revenues to the government.

Significantly, the Hungarian government’s decision to reduce the tax to what will be a flat rate – it is currently applied progressively – is not believed to be dependent on RTL Klub becoming less critical of the government in its programming.