Informal advisor to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Árpád Habony (seen here enjoying himself in Ibiza, Spain) appears to have been the main beneficiary of a million-dollar ad buy last year.
Online daily 444.hu reports that Hungary’s state-owned electricity company, MVM Zrt., spent HUF 299 million (USD 1.03 million) (net of value added tax) on Paks 2 related advertising in the second half of 2015. Of the HUF 167.7 million (USD 583,000) spent on print and online media, HUF 90 million (USD 310,000) went to media outlets owned by Árpád Habony’s Modern Media Group Zrt., reports the online daily.
Tasked by Orbán in 2015 with building a pro-government media empire to rival that of former Fidesz oligarch Lájos Simicska, the international man of mystery launched a slew of pro-government online and print publications in 2015 (even finding time to jointly launch a consulting company with Republican campaign strategist Arthur J. Finkelstein).
Recently, one such media outlet, 888.hu, was roundly condemned for publishing nude photographs of the wife of MSZP chairman Tóbiás József and referring to her as a “means of masturbation.” After dithering for two days, former Századvég strategic director and 888.hu publisher Gábor G. Fodor finally apologized for the “mistake” (although not directly to Tóbiás or his wife, who are understandably intent on suing the little shit for all he’s worth).
Despite poor readership, 888.hu reportedly received a hefty HUF 27.12 million (USD 93,500) slice of the MVM media buy. Online daily local.hu was paid HUF 23.7 million (USD 81,700). The print version of the same publication received HUF 39.2 million (USD 135,000) to run one 2- and one 4-page insert about the environmental benefits of nuclear power in addition to print ads.
All three media outlets are owned by Habony’s Modern Media Group.
By contrast pro-government print daily Magyar Idők only received a mere HUF 2.54 million slice of the MVM ad buy pie.