EU funds used to subsidize pro-government broadcasters

January 27, 2016


In April 2014 Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, forbade TV2, Hungary’s second-largest commercial broadcaster, from running government ads entitled “Hungary is performing better” because the slogan was the same as the one used by the ruling Fidesz-KDNP political alliance.  The TV station continued to broadcast the household cost-reduction ads but without the “Hungary is performing better” slogan at the end.

In June 2015 the Ministry of National Economy (NGM) signed a contract with TV2 Média Csoport Kft. granting it HUF 194.8 million (USD 672,000) worth of EU funds with which to produce promotional films about improvements to workplaces, health and security, and employment oversight.

The following month the Office of the Prime Minister signed two contracts with TV2 Média Csoport Kft. in the amount of HUF 180 million (USD 620,000) to cover the cost of producing and broadcasting short programs, interviews, portraits and short films.

In April 2015 the Office of the Prime Minister concluded a contract in the amount of HUF 80 million (USD 276,000) with pro-government Echo Hungária TV Zrt. for the production of interviews, short programs, portraits and short films.  NGM contributed an additional HUF 4.8 million (USD 16,600) towards the cost of producing the Sikeres vállalkozók (Successful entrepreneurs) series.

Commercial television channels TV2 and Echo regularly broadcast government advertisements.  In fact, online investigative journalism website reports that most of the television advertisements placed within the framework of the first so-called national consultation on immigration and terrorism campaign ran on TV2 and Echo.

Government ads did not prevent TV2 from operating in the red. At the end of last year, its German owners sold the loss-making television station to government film commissioner and casino operator Andy Vajna.

As for Echo TV owner Gábor Széles, his various companies reportedly receive plenty of government subsidies each year with which to subsidize his loss-making media empire.