23 Mar 2018

Independent media struggles in the Hungarian countryside

The ruling Fidesz party in Hungary is cracking down on local media in rural areas by cutting access to funding and filling key positions with allies. 

Ivett Körösi
Ivett Körösi Nepszava, Hungary
Source: Nepszava
Independent media struggles in the Hungarian countryside - NewsMavens
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Viktor Orbán relies on the Hungarian countryside for unwavering support and adjusts his PR strategy accordingly.

Recently, independent regional media outlets have been encountering suspicious problems. Some say local authorities are no longer inviting them to official events, while others suspect their sponsors have been frightened into withdrawing their advertisements.

Local governments are also ignoring non-aligned newspapers when it comes to placing announcements and giving interviews. 

Since the biggest regional newspapers were sold to loyal oligarchs, only a few local watchdogs remain. They could make or break Fidesz in areas where there is no other source of reliable news. Orbán visibly understands this, and is doing everything he can to crush unflattering coverage before it can be published.

media, illiberalism

Regional media in danger:

  • A local independent website in the city of Szombathely, Nyugat.hu, has the biggest readership in Vas county with nearly 80,000 Facebook followers).
  • Despite its popularity, Csaba Hende, a local MP of the ruling Fidesz party, recently said that Nyugat.hu "is not a media outlet."
  • Gyongyi Roznar, editor-in-chief of Nyugat.hu, said the news outlet's relationship with the government has deteriorated over the past 5 years. Sources often ask to remain anonymous because they fear retaliation.
  • A popular independent news source in the city of Kaposvar, Kapos-T, was founded four years ago.
  • Kapok-T's editor, Imre Huszka said the publication has uncovered 70 to 80 serious issues that would have never reached a national audience if they did not report it.
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