Translation of “Fidesz took over the Hungarian media in under a few years” published on November 30th, 2016 by index.hu.
Since returning to government in 2010, Fidesz has started building or destroying in the Hungarian media in a way never before seen. From television and radio to the printed and online press, party influence continues to grow. In an interactive timeline we show the chronology of the spread of Fidesz media from the slow dismantling of Lajos Simicska to the founding of Andy Vajna’s media kingdom. This process is likely to continue. In support of the changes to the media market taking place over the last six years, the governing party systematically claims this is necessary to counterbalance the left-wing, liberal media. Given that state intervention in the media market has been more frequent, we listed all the events that helped bring about a Fidesz media empire.
The timeline (appearing at the end of the article) shows the incremental steps taken by Fidesz with the various media outlets from public media to Origo, including the purchase of the countryside papers. By clicking on the text (of the original article-tran) you can read the relevant article of ours.
The timeline is also worth looking over because one sees just how central a role Lajos Simicska and Zsolt Nyerges played in bringing commercial media outlets under Fidesz control. Simicska with Class FM, Nyerges with TV2 received huge money from state advertising, while in the background advances were made on all the existing media fronts.
The key date was “G-day” when Lajos Simicska fell out with Viktor Orbán to such an extent that his media influence long supported by the party drastically decreased within months. The falling out drew a new fault line between the “Orbánist” and “non-Orbánist” media, with serious changes starting to take place in public media beginning with changes to the former. New television channels were created and manually controlled propaganda news-reels were started, which later resulted in the complete destruction of MR2 Petőfi.
Meanwhile Fidesz entered the print newspaper market. Under the leadership of (former Magyar Nemzet editor-in-chief-tran.) Gábor Liszkay (who is close to Orbán), print daily Napi Gazdaság was turned into an openly pro-government Magyar Idők, Metropol was taken out from under Simicska, and the free government tabloid Lokál was launched with the cooperation of Árpád Habony, while the traditional right-wing Magyar Nemzet (which remained Simicska’s) adopted a tone that was more and more anti-government. Of course, this was not without its reasons as in the meantime they started driving Simicska out of the advertising market. One of the country’s largest news portals, Origo, came under the influence of Fidesz despite conspicuous claims to the contrary on the part of the government and Telekom. New Wave Media bought it and received more than HUF 600 million (USD 2.2 million) in support via vs.hu from the Pallas foundation set up by central bank governor György Matolcsy. Meanwhile Ripost, 888 and Faktor were launched by companies linked to Fidesz and Árpád Habony.
Fidesz took the final big step with Andy Vajna. The national film commissioner, casino mogul and doughnut magnate bought not only TV2 but later created an entire portfolio (of media products), so that next to public television there are cooking, sport, film and other thematic channels to make room for themselves on the television market.
Even more movement is expected in the future since Fidesz allegedly plans to publish its own tabloid (this will probably be the printed version of Ripost). On November 20th Class FM stopped broadcasting, Andy Vajna’s radio empire expands, and the media portfolio of Gábor Széles (who is close to Orbán) from (pro-government print daily) Magyar Hírlap to (pro-government radio) Echo TV is being transferred to the state. By the end of 2016 the Hungarian radio market has reached the point where only state radio stations are licensed to broadcast nationally.
Timeline appearing in article
November 19th – Lajos Simicskas/Zsolt Nyerges obtain Class FM through Advenio Zrt.
July 22 – Public media is combined and state media holding company NMHH is created.
October 11th – The Média Tanács (Media Council) is created. Parliament elects the four people nominated by Fidesz. Annamária Szalai becomes president.
November 10th – Zsolt Nyerges’ infocenter.hu tries to acquire an interest in German TV broadcaster RTL but withdraws his offer.
December 22 – Fidesz obtains a new position in public media.
June 6th – Károly Fonyó’s Megapolis Media Zrt. buys free print daily Metropol
March 8th – Lajos Simicska’s media company Publimont doubles its profits from advertising.
November 5th – Central Bank governor György Matolcsy’s cousin Tamás Szemerey launches daily online vs.hu.
March 10th – Half the state television advertising budget is spent on TV2 even though RTL’s viewership is much better.
June 2nd – Origo’s editor-in-chief suspended
June 5th – Origo’s editorial staff worried over its ability to continue its work in the future.
August 8th – The government announces the need for a National Communication Agency
February 6th – “G-day.” Simicska begins to purge media holdings of supporters of Viktor Orbán after all his media directors resign following meeting with Orbán.
March 16th – “Renewed’ M1 relaunch plagued with technical problems.
March 26th – Reported that Gábor Liszkay will launch a new pro-government daily newspaper.
April 17th – István Garancsi purchased lamppost advertisement company.
May 13th – The government destroys the advertising market with introduction of tax on advertising revenues.
May 28th – Árpad Habony launches pro-government online tabloid, lokál.hu.
June 30th – Parliament exempts public media from public procurement law when it comes to ordering television programs.
September 1st – Launch of new pro-government print daily Magyar Idők.
September 18th – Launch of pro-government daily online 888.hu.
October 12th – Launch of pro-government online news portal faktor.hu.
Octdober 15th – TV2 is sold to Andy Vajna amid controversy.
November 18th – Confidante of János Lázár put in charge of state online media.
December 17th – Magyar Telekom sells Origo to New Wave Media Kft. for a reported 13.2 million euro (HUF 4,2 billion). Transaction finalized the first quarter of 2016.
February 6th – Within one year of “G-day” ten new pro-government media outlets launched.
February 13th – Revealed that government ordered 12-part series of articles from Pesti Srácok denigrating political opposition and Lajos Simicska.
April 22nd – Revealed that the Hungarian National Bank (MNB) had given New Wave Media HUF 501.4 million with which to purchase Origo.
May 5th – MNB advertising heavily in vs and TV2.
May 10th – Launch of weekly tabloid Lokál.
May 13th – Announcement that Lokál will contract with BKV in June.
May 13th – Revealed that Andy Vajna’s Magyar Broadcasting Kft. had received loans totaling HUF 13.3 billion from undisclosed sources.
May 31st – Andy Vajna to launch Radio 1
June 31 – Government spending billions on propaganda on TV2
July 4th – Mediaworks buys publisher of four county newspapers
July 7th – Andy Vajna’s trick causes the state to lose hundreds of millions by registering TV2’s eight cable channels in Romania, where taxes are lower.
August 6 – New government party tabloid to be launched in fall
September 7th – Echo TV to be taken over by Fidesz think-tank Századvég.
October 8th – Publication of opposition newspaper Népszabadság suspended.
October 13th – Class FM to stop broadcasting on November 20th
October 25th – Publisher close to Lőrinc Mészáros buys Népszabadság.
October 26th – Vajna’s radio gets half the country in place of Class FM.
October 26th – Fidesz eyes Hungarian tabloid “Bors”
October 26th – Népszabadság’s fate is in the hands of pro-government Magyar Idők
October 28th – Former editor-in-chief of híradó.hu to run Mediaworks digital division.
November 4th – Gábor Széles to sell Echo TV
November 7th – Magyar Idők editor to head Világgazdaság
November 15th – Ottó Gajdics named Magyar Idők editor-in-chief.
November 16th – Class FM broadcasts last “Morning Show”
November 17th – TV2 continuously advertising MVM using banned flash ad technique.
November 21st – Orbán’s court photographer accumulates numerous lucrative positions in public media.
November 21 – Former Felcsút press agent becomes editor-in-chief of Orbán’s favorite newspaper, Nemzeti Sport (National Sport).
November 25th – Class FM denied temporary frequency