The overwhelming presence of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán on the airwaves

Every week the National Media Authority publishes detailed statistics about news coverage, breaking it down by political categories. They distinguish, for instance, between news featuring members of the government parties and the opposition. The statistics on the website of the Media Authority are drawn from an analysis of MTV’s evening news, the news on Duna TV, the noontime news on Magyar Rádió (Déli Krónika), Tények (Facts) on TV2, RTL Club’s news coverage, the news on ATV, HírTV, and the far-right EchoTV. I thought that a few numbers might highlight the plight of the opposition. Bear with me for a few minutes.

The latest statistics (between September 3 and September 9) show an overwhelming preponderance of Fidesz politicians in all the news. The leading vehicle for Fidesz-KDNP messages is the much-listened-to Déli Krónika on MR (67.6%). TV2 is not much behind with 62.1%, but even ATV spends 56.5% of its total time on the activities of Fidesz politicians. One must also add to these high numbers news about Christian Democratic politicians. Again, Magyar Rádió’s noontime news leads the list with 14.7%. Thus 82% of domestic coverage is devoted to the government parties on Magyar Rádió. The “public” television stations and MR spend very little time on MSZP. Echo TV spends more time on Jobbik than any other media outlet under consideration, and ATV offers the most extensive coverage of  LMP and DK. Overall, the average coverage of the listed news broadcasts  is as follows: 61.4% of the coverage is about Fidesz-KDNP politicians while only 16.3% deals with MSZP. LMP and Jobbik each receive 8.1% and DK only 4.1%.

News waves / flckr

The situation is not better when we read about “direct speech coverage of the representatives of the government parties.” Again, Magyar Rádió is the most brazen in this respect: 93.3% of the coverage is devoted to politicians of the government parties while, for example, members of DK never made an appearance either on MTV’s evening news or MR’s noontime Krónika. ATV, on the other hand, seems to ignore the Christian Democrats while they spend more time on LMP (13.2%) and DK (7.9%).

Another category is the “speaking time of members of the coalition parties and the parliamentary opposition in news programs.” The pattern is the same. Thus, one can conclude that someone who listens to Magyar Rádió’s news at noon and MTV’s evening news will receive mighty little information about the activities of the opposition parties and the opinions of their spokesmen.

When it comes to individuals, it is not surprising that Viktor Orbán leads the list. In a week Viktor Orbán’s activities were mentioned 58 times and he could be heard (direct speech) 40 times amounting to about 15 minutes. He was followed by Antal Rogán, János Martonyi, Péter Szijjártó and István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest. MSZP’s Attila Mesterházy paled even in comparison to Tarlós. Mesterházy could be heard only two minutes during that one week. Even Benedek Jávor, whip of LMP, fared better with his 2.5 minutes. Gyurcsány’s name was mentioned four times but he couldn’t be heard either on television or on radio during the week.

In the statistics there was also a category called “government” or “cabinet.” These are members of the government without party affiliation. I didn’t mention this category when describing the September situation because the government per se was barely mentioned in the news coverage during the first week of the month. However, if we compare the latest statistics to those of the first week of January we find a strikingly different picture. Only nine months ago 19.2% of the coverage centered on the “cabinet” while only 40.9% was devoted to Fidesz and KDNP. In comparison to the first week of January Viktor Orbán’s total and direct speech coverage also went up considerably. While in January Viktor Orbán was mentioned 41 times and directly quoted 25 times, in September these numbers are 58 and 40. But one doesn’t have to go back that far. In July on MTV’s evening news Fidesz-KDNP accounted for 56.5% of the total coverage while in early September it was 60.0%. So, there seems to be a steady rise in the coverage of Fidesz-KDNP.

The news coverage of the two popular nationwide commercial television stations, TV2 and RTL Club, is scant. Only about 10% of the population reads a newspaper, and relatively few people get their news from the Internet. Out of habit most people listen to Magyar Rádió’s Krónika at noon. And yet it is MR’s news coverage that is the most lopsided. Therefore political news hardly reaches the average Hungarian, and when it does it is slanted. MTV, for instance, doesn’t like to report on news that’s uncomfortable to the governing party; if they mention it at all they hide it at the very end of the program, after some local news about a traffic jam.

I really should listen to more of MTV’s and MR’s news coverage and compare it to the actual happenings of the day. I have the feeling that it would be a depressing exercise. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the opposition’s messages simply don’t get out to the population.

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42 comments

  1. London Calling!

    For me the way Orban has tied up the media is the most egregious aspect of his version of ‘democracy’.

    A truly free press, a far as is possible, is the bell-wether of a decent democracy.

    Of course Orban knows this.

    As does the EU… As does the USA.,,, As do we here in England….as……

    But his population are in blind ignorance. You only have to read some of the posters on here from Fideszbikkerland.

    Regards

    Charlie

  2. What’s even worse in my opinion is the fact (or is it just my and my wife’s impression ?) that the so-called news is full of absolutely unimportant crap:

    minute-long reports on some “stars” or the birth of the 5.x kg baby somewhere in Hungary and …

    News on politics, economics, science etc is getting less and less – at least that’s how we see it.

    Often we don’t switch on the TV at all -after the news there’s only a lot of old Hollywood films and some strange series …

  3. OK, I will analyze the percentage posters here and their “angles”. I think it will be much higher in “anything but the government”, than the Orban/Fidesz percentage publicity in Hungary

  4. It sounds like a tactic that the soviets use to use, its called conditioning and it is definately a form of brainwashing. The less people know about important political issues, the less they complain. It is all part of Orbans plan from the beginning. During communist times, there was one channel, and nothing on except things depicting the different wars, the occasional tv series and este mese. The papers had information of only the things the government wanted you to know about. Later, after leaving Hungary, you find out all sorts of things that were going on and wondered how they keep it from the people. The Orban government is trying to do this and say it is democracy. Rediculous! My cousin arrived from Hungary and within a week realized they were being lied to back home and in many things she didn’t even know about. So there definately was a reason Orban does not want an independent media.

  5. Louis Kovach :
    OK, I will analyze the percentage posters here and their “angles”. I think it will be much higher in “anything but the government”, than the Orban/Fidesz percentage publicity in Hungary

    If it makes you feel useful. Although, this blog isn’t (unfortunately) part of Hungary’s state news coverage.

  6. Louis Kovach :
    OK, I will analyze the percentage posters here and their “angles”. I think it will be much higher in “anything but the government”, than the Orban/Fidesz percentage publicity in Hungary

    Well, apparently Prof. Balogh doesn’t need sensorship because her approval rating isn’t below 30% …

  7. It seems as if the broadcast media see “balanced coverage” of politics as reflecting the composition of Parliament. In the UK you would be able to break the stories down further according to whether they were sympathetic, neutral or negative towards each party – I doubt if such an analysis would be useful in Hungary (as I understand it, the Media Law makes a clear distinction between reportage – which has to be neutral – and comment and analysis, and the two must be visibly separate in broadcasts). Obviously it’s not their job to actively help the undecideds to make up their mind so through their passivity they promote the idea that there’s no real answer to Fidesz.

  8. Louis Kovach :
    OK, I will analyze the percentage posters here and their “angles”. I think it will be much higher in “anything but the government”, than the Orban/Fidesz percentage publicity in Hungary

    Lous, oh my goodness… I am not even sure where should I start to explain the difference between the Hungarian State Television and Hungarian Spectrum. Let me say three things… Hungarian Spectrum has ONE “journalist” who is the “owner”, and this is her private blog. THe “owner” of the blog maybe six times a year allows other individuals to place a blog entry. Can you do that math? Eva does over 95% of her “reporting” on her own blog that is not owned by any party or the State. Do you need further explanation or this would suffice?

  9. I agree with Erzsike. It is total conditioning. Most people buy the product that they are most familiar with. Colgate, Coca Cola, Persil, etc. You could come out with a better product, sell it even cheaper, but of the consumer did not hear about it, you have no chance.

  10. Is it just me or does anyone think that Orban is a bit of a nutty control person or what? Perhaps he might have gone a little bit overboard with the media security. I care about what goes on in Hungary and I cannot find a whole lot of media attention about you all here in the states. Open up the media, PM Orban!!!!-LOL

  11. Erzsike :
    It sounds like a tactic that the soviets use to use, its called conditioning and it is definately a form of brainwashing. The less people know about important political issues, the less they complain. It is all part of Orbans plan from the beginning. During communist times, there was one channel, and nothing on except things depicting the different wars, the occasional tv series and este mese. The papers had information of only the things the government wanted you to know about. Later, after leaving Hungary, you find out all sorts of things that were going on and wondered how they keep it from the people. The Orban government is trying to do this and say it is democracy. Rediculous! My cousin arrived from Hungary and within a week realized they were being lied to back home and in many things she didn’t even know about. So there definately was a reason Orban does not want an independent media.

    A couple of things: one, what is scary is that people have no capacity to dissect what’s going on and arrive at their own conclusions. Two, in a talk about politics with my wife’s son-in-law, he abruptly turned to me and said, “Well, you know, people are too busy struggling to make a living”. I’m not sure how that absolves people from following the twists and turns of Orban’s mayhem, but a thought came to me: is it possible that a communist discovery was that if people are occupied with dire economic circumstances, they’re less likely to pay attention to
    politics? The implication of that realization is dire indeed…

  12. Some1 :
    I agree with Erzsike. It is total conditioning. Most people buy the product that they are most familiar with. Colgate, Coca Cola, Persil, etc. You could come out with a better product, sell it even cheaper, but of the consumer did not hear about it, you have no chance.

    I think they buy coca-cola because Orban has declared it a strategic product. ( Orban’s declaration aside, the next major development by coca-cola will take place in Romania.)

  13. Media control? Not in Democratic Hungary!
    But what about the Chatary case?….allowed to sink into oblivion.
    What about the release of the Azeri murderer?…Orban has declared it a dead subject.

    Man, I’ll bet Nixon would’ve like to have lived in Hungary!

    (Shame on the gutless, Hungarian media. Followed to its logical conclusion–how about
    sending someone to Turkey to inquire about the seriousness of setting up the Hungarian bonds there?–it would’ve led to Orban’s resignation.)

  14. I want to believe to belong to the club, where moral norms are fine.

    On the other side is the Orban la-la land.
    The Orban land is of course beyond the acceptable morals.
    The Orban believers are blinded by their hatred towards the monster MSZP + Gyurcsany.

    Let us do a good job in enlightening the Orban fans of their crimes against humanity in the making.

    Our moral leader, Eva has to answer the higher duty of history. Together with the Galamus intellectuals, we should reconquer Hungary, to make it again into a merry little hut.

    Mr. Orban, pull down this iron curtain II !

  15. Oh this blog sure puts a smile on my face every day. To see the opposition in disarray…ah, man, priceless! Like a dream come true!
    Anyway, I’m still worried about one thing though: Why is MSZP and DK in the news? Corruption? Week long “mini-hunger strikes” (LOL)? I don’t think these clowns should be there at all (just kidding of course as they are quite funny).

    But on a more serious note: don’t be fooled by these statistics.
    To say or imply that media in Hungary in not free is a joke but sadly true. The largest papers (HVG, Nepszabadsag) are in the hands of the opposition (+ foreign owned) and manipulate the readers accordingly. Non-MSZP media are catching up but they are still very much in minority.
    Thank God you can’t win an election in Hungary by controlling the media!

  16. Actually, it is much worse than Eva described. RTL Klub, TV 2 and MTVA are the only on “free” television, the rest is via cable and/or internet. And that is not even free. Blogger György Balavany is charged with EUR 20,000 from MTI, because twice (July 23 and August 14) he mentioned that they used government money to dis-inform the public.

    I found the story on a Dutch blog, and not on the Hungarian one. Although the blogger is a journalist from HVG.

    http://www.kuifjeinhongurie.com/2012/09/mti-eist-20000-euro-van-blogger.html

  17. Ron :

    Actually, it is much worse than Eva described. RTL Klub, TV 2 and MTVA are the only on “free” television, the rest is via cable and/or internet. And that is not even free. Blogger György Balavany is charged with EUR 20,000 from MTI, because twice (July 23 and August 14) he mentioned that they used government money to dis-inform the public.

    I found the story on a Dutch blog, and not on the Hungarian one. Although the blogger is a journalist from HVG.

    http://www.kuifjeinhongurie.com/2012/09/mti-eist-20000-euro-van-blogger.html

    It is worth mentioning that Balavány used to work for Magyar Nemzet, a pro-Fidesz paper, but quit because it was becoming clear to him that after the Fidesz victory Magyar Nemzet will be a servile, uncritical government paper. And he couldn’t see himself being one of those uncritical, gutless characters who do nothing else but extol the virtues of Viktor Orbán and his government. György Bolgár’s interview with him can be read here:

    http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=162238%3Abolgar-gyoergy-interjui-a-galamusban-2012-szeptember-14&catid=69%3Abolgar-gyoergy-megbeszeljuek&Itemid=106&limitstart=2

  18. Miklos :
    Oh this blog sure puts a smile on my face every day. To see the opposition in disarray…ah, man, priceless! Like a dream come true!
    Anyway, I’m still worried about one thing though: Why is MSZP and DK in the news? Corruption? Week long “mini-hunger strikes” (LOL)? I don’t think these clowns should be there at all (just kidding of course as they are quite funny).
    But on a more serious note: don’t be fooled by these statistics.
    To say or imply that media in Hungary in not free is a joke but sadly true. The largest papers (HVG, Nepszabadsag) are in the hands of the opposition (+ foreign owned) and manipulate the readers accordingly. Non-MSZP media are catching up but they are still very much in minority.
    Thank God you can’t win an election in Hungary by controlling the media!

    Miklos, Really? A dream come true? bahahaha I thought your dream came true when you settled in the USA. Your dreams quite small, you do not aim to high. Hungarian history is spiked with characters who worked hard to set up their little powerhouse while ignoring what works the best for uniting a country. Well, the opposition tries to find its voice. True. Yu call Fidesz united? You call the support of Fidesz united? Yu are happy to see that Fidesz is controlling and often rewriting the news? You see the problem lies with you. As long as you want is in power you have no problem wit the means. No kidding you are lonely in the USA, and supposedly have to go back to Hungary to find some like minded people. Actually, I bet Eva could hook you up with Kovach, you would have plenty to talk about.

  19. “relatively few people get their news from the Internet”

    Could you perhaps quote an exact figure please? That would be interesting to see as I didn’t find any recent data on this. What I did find was that in Hungary, 4.6 million people use the Internet “regularly,” which represents about 46% of the total population and 62% of those aged 15-69. The number of those using the Internet on a daily basis is approximately 3 million. However, I did not find any reliable data on the number of people who “get their news from the Internet.”

  20. Miklos :
    Oh this blog sure puts a smile on my face every day. To see the opposition in disarray…ah, man, priceless! Like a dream come true!
    Anyway, I’m still worried about one thing though: Why is MSZP and DK in the news? Corruption? Week long “mini-hunger strikes” (LOL)? I don’t think these clowns should be there at all (just kidding of course as they are quite funny).
    But on a more serious note: don’t be fooled by these statistics.
    To say or imply that media in Hungary in not free is a joke but sadly true. The largest papers (HVG, Nepszabadsag) are in the hands of the opposition (+ foreign owned) and manipulate the readers accordingly. Non-MSZP media are catching up but they are still very much in minority.
    Thank God you can’t win an election in Hungary by controlling the media!

    Revelling in the madness of King George–good for you, Miklos,
    you can ‘enjoy’ the homegrown, absolute, madness of the Felcsutian known as Orban. I suppose you don’t have any children or grand-children because then you might be possessed of a smidgen of anxiety about their future in the new, sycophantic Hungary. Perhaps you wouldn’t.

    In the midst of one of my rants, my neighbor said, “What are you worrying on about? You’ll soon be dead anyway!” “But what about the children?” I asked, but by then she had turned on her heels and went in.

    Laugh all you want, Miklos, but unless you’re in with the gang of Orban, and I mean VERY in, you’ll be swept aside in time, too.
    Just you wait, Mr. Higgins, just you wait.

    In the meantime, let’s sing a rousing chorus of “Kossuth Lajos”!

    Hajra, Magyarok! Hajra Orban!!!

    (And still Orban hears nothing because he’s deep in the calculation of the monthly income on 30 million..)

  21. My first experience of Fidesz/Orban TV was the state TV coverage of the 2002 election. Here are three examples: ONE images of MSZP PM candidate Medgyessy walking past a sex shop (apropos of nothing, and run without comment). TWO unexplained shots of crying babies etc whenever Medgyessy commented on anything. THREE hours of sumptuous live coverage of Fidesz election rallies – an honour denied anyone else.

    NB running this stuff without comment gave even more substance to the imagery.

    This was TV beyond even Berlusconi’s dreams.

    (but Fidesz LOST that election … so there’s hope)

  22. It is perfectly natural that Hungarian broadcast news outlets should devote the bulk of their coverage to Fidesz (and their ventriloquist dummies in the KDNP). They won 68% of the seats in Parliament fair and square. This means that every other party in Parliament is powerless and superfluous. If a journalist’s job is to cover events and policies that affect the viewers, then it is right and proper for Hungary’s opposition to get much, much less airtime than the all-powerful Fidesz.
    Just because Fidesz dominates the news does not necessarily mean that the coverage is the fawning, servile kind of reporting that Orbanites like. Look at ATV for proof.
    The problem is that the proportions of coverage for Fidesz — 82% on Magyar Radio — are waaaay out of control. The other problem is that Fidesz’s leaders have abused their 68% majority to force public news outlets to do their bidding, and use the Media Law to intimidate the privately owned broadcasters. That is one of the reasons why democracy is going to have a tough time in the future in Hungary.

  23. “fair and square”

    REALLY?

    Fair and Square? I think not. Years of planning and brainwashing does NOT equal “fair and square”.

  24. Ivan :
    “fair and square”
    REALLY?
    Fair and Square? I think not. Years of planning and brainwashing does NOT equal “fair and square”.

    The Hungarian version of ‘fair and square’:

    “I do you first before you do me!”

  25. AGK: “Just because Fidesz dominates the news does not necessarily mean that the coverage is the fawning, servile kind of reporting that Orbanites like. Look at ATV for proof.”

    ATV is the only one and it is available only on cable. A lot of cable companies refuse to put it on their different packages.

  26. I don’t remember who was extolling the greatness of Hungarian literature as the best in whole of Europe but this is a bit of an exaggeration. Hungarian-language literacy is relatively new. Its real beginnings can be traced to the 16th century while there was already English-language literacy before the 11th century.

    As for academic learning Hungary didn’t manage to establish a university that lasted longer than a few years before the 17th century. Compare that with Charles University in Prague, the Jagellonian University in Cracow or the University in Vienna. All three were established in the 14th century. Hungarian students attended Italian universities or went to Cracow or Vienna in those days.

  27. London Calling!

    It was the (new?) troll ‘J’ – one of them anyway; the one with the massive inferiority complex (masquerading as superiority complex!)/

    Mutt has given the resident troll a C+ (far to generous!).

    I give ‘J’ a 1 (well I understand that’s how it’s done in Hungary?…..when in Rome……). I think a ‘1’ is very generous for such ignorance! – And I haven’t any evidence that he knows Schmitt Pal or any other well placed Fidesz ministers (Otherwise a ‘5’!).

    Regards

    Charlie

  28. Dr Balogh: “As for academic learning Hungary didn’t manage to establish a university that lasted longer than a few years before the 17th century. Compare that with Charles University in Prague, the Jagellonian University in Cracow or the University in Vienna. All three were established in the 14th century. Hungarian students attended Italian universities or went to Cracow or Vienna in those days.”

    It somewhat difficult to establish universities in the middle of continuous warfare. The good folks always voted down the budget for universities, which would have been destroyed in several months.
    BTW, Hungarians also attended the univeristy in Holland (mostly the protestants)

  29. Totally OT:

    And the university in my little German hometown (just 90 000 inhabitants) was established in 1477 – tourist guides like to show some early buildings with the year inscripted somewhere especially to US tourists …

  30. Dr Balogh: “The overwhelming presence of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán on the airwaves”

    As I promised, I started to check the statistics hereabouts….Since Sept 1 only One bolg did not discuss Orban and Fidesz. That is 19 out of 20 blogs or 95 %. Congratulations, you beat the In Hungary media in publicizing Orban and FIDESZ. :-).

  31. @Louis:

    And how many blog entries/comments (besides yours) did praise the infinite wisdom of the glorious Victator ?

  32. Is it true that Mr Orban was re-elected as the vice chairman of the largest party block in the European Parliament today (European People’s Party)? Is it true that its chairman, Mr Joseph Daul of Germany is Orban’s big supporter?

    Does it show that they support the tyranny in Hungary and wish to introduce similar systems in their countries in the place of the current democracies?

  33. Louis Kovach :
    Dr Balogh: “The overwhelming presence of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán on the airwaves”
    As I promised, I started to check the statistics hereabouts….Since Sept 1 only One bolg did not discuss Orban and Fidesz. That is 19 out of 20 blogs or 95 %. Congratulations, you beat the In Hungary media in publicizing Orban and FIDESZ.

    Kovacs, I checked all your posts. They are all impertinent, dumb posts picking on professor Balogh. Congrats, dude! This is 100%. You beat the Hungarian tax-payer sponsored media.

    Just in case you haven’t realized what the problem is: we, the taxpayers pay for the lying government media. Capish?

  34. Mutt: “Kovacs, I checked all your posts. They are all impertinent, dumb posts picking on professor Balogh. Congrats, dude! This is 100%. You beat the Hungarian tax-payer sponsored media.”

    Old saying…dog barks, caravan goes on…..

  35. A rather late commednt as I was away for a few daxs: your statistics omit any mention of Kossith Radio’s 180 Perc which runs from 6 – 9 am Mon Fri. Mr Orban gives an “intervuew” every Friday morning, but not many questions are asked and one week it was more of a rant. One week he was absent and guess who stood in for him? Not another member of his party but Gábor Vona, Jobbik leader.
    Peter

  36. Peter :

    A rather late commednt as I was away for a few daxs: your statistics omit any mention of Kossith Radio’s 180 Perc which runs from 6 – 9 am Mon Fri. Mr Orban gives an “intervuew” every Friday morning, but not many questions are asked and one week it was more of a rant. One week he was absent and guess who stood in for him? Not another member of his party but Gábor Vona, Jobbik leader.
    Peter

    It is missing this particular program because the Media Authority didn’t include it. But you are right. That would further “improve” the statistics in Viktor Orbán’s favor.

  37. Dr Balogh: “What kind of warfare Kovach is talking about in the 14th and 15th century? On Hungarian territories? Come one!”

    Dr Balogh: “As for academic learning Hungary didn’t manage to establish a university that lasted longer than a few years before the 17th century. ”

    Oh well, a few centuries here or there what difference does it make to a historian…..

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