The new relationship of politics and media - the case of Hungary

2017-10-11

  • Journalism is facing considerable challenges worldwide. Social media giants, such as Google and Facebook, are increasingly taking over the role of traditional content publishers, forging a closer link both with and between readers and thus creating a new kind of competition for traditional media. A YouGov survey found 68% of Hungarians use social media as a news source, while 74% uses television, 24% radios and 20% the printed press. The advance of social media as one of the populations’ primary news sources is problematic for the reason that these media outlets generally serve as the main source of fake news and offer a platform for their dissemination.
  • In Hungary however, the situation is slightly different: the colonised nature of the Hungarian press, the political polarisation of the country and Hungarian political leadership’s ideological connections to Russia have all facilitated fake news breaking into mainstream media. In Hungary, disinformation finds its way to citizens not through alternative online platforms but through the public media and the expanding government-organised media empire. The Orbán government divides the Hungarian nation into “national” and “anti-national” groups, the latter only being represented by the governing parties and their supporters. The incumbent Hungarian administration follows this strategy in the media as well: it acquires media outlets referring to the need to take the press into domestic hands.
  • The Orbán government aims to drastically shrink the size of the audience the Hungarian opposition can reach: opposition parties, as members of the “anti-national” camp, may not expect positive coverage in government-dominated media. The governing Fidesz-KDNP alliance used legislative and economic tools to demolish the previous Hungarian media system built on balancing the interests of the two large political parties, Fidesz and MSZP. Currently, Fidesz dominates the Hungarian media scene through a government-organised media empire made up of organs strictly adhering to the government’s line but not under its control officially.
  • The freedom of the press in Hungary can only be rebuilt with the cooperation of legislators, media owners and journalists.

 

The complete study, in Hungarian, can be accessed from here.

 

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