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Fidesz dominates the media landscape

August 6th, 2018

After the ‘recapture’ of HírTV’ by the government side, left-wing commentators paint a bleak picture of the Hungarian media landscape, while a pro-government author lays the blame at the door of the tycoon who lured conservative journalists into his anti-Orbán offensive and then left them in the lurch.

In Népszava, Péter Németh rejects a statement by Fidesz floor leader Máté Kocsis who said neither his party nor the government were involved in the changes that occurred in the management of Hungary’s first TV news channel. ‘We are being encircled and left with hardly any air to breathe’, Németh writes and dismisses as ridiculous a claim by Mr Kocsis who denied that most of the media is dominated by the government side.

In a long analysis on Mérce, András Jámbor writes that with HírTV  on the government side, the only remaining nationwide TV channel which is fully independent from the government is RTL Klub which is owned by Bertelsmann (Germany). ATV, the only remaining opposition channel manages to sell advertisement slots to the government and therefore Jámbor doesn’t list it among the fully independent media outlets. Regional newspapers are owned by pro-government investors, he continues and Népszava is the only paper with nationwide distribution supporting the opposition. Nevertheless, he adds, Népszava also carries government ads. The market of weekly newspapers has been the only one with a numerical opposition advantage, although after Heti Válasz halted its print edition this spring, it has now closed down its online editionamd filed  for bankruptcy protection. Among the online news sites, Index and 24 are the leading outlets, while the pro-government ones are gaining ground.

Index’s András Dezső predicts a media war within the pro-government camp. The main problem they have is a shortage of pro-government journalists, while money is not the bottleneck. Nevertheless, sustaining two parallel pro-government news channels doesn’t seem to be realistic in the long run. HírTV, even in its present condition, is viewed by at least three times more people than EchoTV. On the other hand, the latter has just been propped up to new technological levels by its owner, Lőrinc Mészáros, the number one pro-government tycoon. The decision will be difficult, but sooner or later the governing forces will have to opt for either one or the other. Until then the competition between the two will be inevitable and fierce, Dezső predicts.

On Pesti Srácok, Angéla Füssy finds it strange that the left-wing pundits who dominated HírTV’s screen over the past three years are now complaining about losing their jobs, although it must have been clear to them for months that this is precisely what was going to happen. On top of it all, they are blaming the government side for their plight, instead of the former owner of the channel we used them in his anti-government campaign, but when his plan to bring Jobbik to power was foiled by the elections in April, he dumped them ‘like one would dispose of a pair of dirty socks’, Füssy remarks.

On his own blog, political Scientist Gábor Török decries the end of Heti Válasz, the weekly that he found nearest to his own conservative liberal world outlook. He reproduces his last interview with Válasz’s Bálint Ablonczy which was meant to be published next week and in which he says that Prime Minister Orbán has created a setup in which power is extremely concentrated. The institutions have barely changed over the past few years – the transformation was almost entirely due to his own personal skills. This is not a new régime, Török explains, for it is built around one single person. As long as Mr Orbán’s magic is there, he predicts, no one has a chance to emerge as Hungary’s new leader. Former Minister János Lázár and Jobbik leader Gábor Vona have withdrawn from the national political scene because they understand that. Török believes Mr Orbán has found a way back to Hungary’s tradition of one dominant party while the previous two decades with a multitude of parties that played important roles, was an exception in Hungarian history.


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