Stop the Presses: Hungary’s Government-Friendly Media Suffers at Home and Abroad

Elsewhere, Pesti TV, an aggressively right-wing television station intended for young viewers, was also closed during the summer. And even the prime minister's personal favourite - and the country's only - sports daily, Nemzeti Sport, had to be bailed out by the state with 3 billion forints (7.5 million euros) during the autumn, while FourFourTwo, a sports magazine run by Orban's favourite journalist Gyorgy Szolossy, simply went out of business.

While the pillars of government propaganda remain solid, the country's dire economic situation no longer permits the funding of non-essential media, experts say. "The state is in trouble," Szalay says, "which means that even companies close to the government need to tighten their belts."

But that does not mean Fidesz is prepared to give up its tight control of the media, rather it is changing tack. "The election in April 2022 proved that a massive campaign via social media is powerful enough, there is no need to fund dozens of media outlets for years," Agnes Urban, a media researcher from Mertek Media Monitor, tells BIRN.

Urban refers to the right-wing propaganda outlet Megafon, which aggressively disseminated pro-government messaging on social media, mostly Facebook and YouTube, to great effect during the campaign for April's parliamentary election, which Fidesz won by a landslide.

Megafon was established in 2020 to train influencers who could help disseminate government propaganda and to strengthen the voice of those displaying "national sentiments" on social media. However, it quickly became one of the main public communications tools for the government, spending over 1 billion forints (2.5 millions euros) on Facebook advertising alone.

Although Istvan Kovacs, founder of Megafon and...

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