TV2, the Hungarian commercial television station purchased last year by government film commissioner and gambling mogul Andy Vajna, has run nearly HUF 3.7 billion (USD 13.7 million) of state “pubic service announcements” since January, according to Hungarian news site 444.hu. But do people trust it as a source of news?
In the age of media abundance, trust is an important factor in the relationship between any kind of media and its audience. Measuring trust enables media organizations to track citizens’ perception of the organization and its output.
That is why the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has published its 2015 survey on how citizens of the European Union perceived different types of media. The findings were especially interesting in the case of Hungary, where many media outlets are owned by businessmen and advisors close to ruling party Fidesz, and journalists and editors feel pressured to practice self-censorship.
Just two years ago, the editor-in-chief of Hungarian news website Origo.hu was sacked after his portal ran a series of articles about János Lázár, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister. Since then there have been a number of scandals involving public and private media outlets.
It is no wonder, then, that according to EBU, from the 28 EU member states Cyprus, Hungary and Slovenia scored a negative trust index across all five measured media sectors.
While radio was the most trusted medium in Europe (in 20 out of 33 countries, 61% of the countries surveyed), Hungarians preferred television as their most trusted source of information. Even so, the level of trust in television dropped one point from 2014.
Also, while Nordic countries achieved the highest levels of trust in radio, Hungary was among those states where trust in radio fell compared to the previous year – by eight points.
Interestingly, the print media was not very highly regarded by Hungarians. In 2015, net trust in the country’s print media decreased by 28 points.
While the perception of social media improved slightly, they were still the least trusted type of media in 15 countries. Eastern European countries such as Hungary tended to trust online social networks more, although the net trust index was still negative for 29 out of the 33 countries (88%)
Overall decrease in trust
Compared to the 2014 results, in 2015 an overall decrease of trust in media could be observed. There were slightly fewer countries with a positive net trust index when it came to radio, TV and the written press. Moreover, the internet was regarded as trustworthy only in 12 countries, compared to 20 previously.
“It doesn’t surprise us that TV and radio are the most trusted media sources,” said EBU head of media intelligence service Roberto Suárez Candel, who conducted the research. “People maintain a strong relationship with radio and TV, which are still their primary sources of information and entertainment. It is also not surprising that in countries with a high level of funding for public service TV and radio there tends to be more trust in the media in general – they produce good quality content and provide valuable information for society.”
The whole report of EBU can be downloaded from here.