Saturday

21st Apr 2018

Hungary's main opposition media shuts down after election

Hungary's main opposition daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet will shut down on Wednesday (11 April), the publisher announced on Tuesday following prime minister Viktor Orban's landslide victory on Sunday.

The publisher cited financial reasons, and said the online version and a sister radio, Lanchid, will cease their operations as well.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The 80-year old Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) has been the largest print daily that retained an opposition voice in a media landscape dominated by state or government-aligned outlets, and an advertising market controlled by the government.

Magyar Nemzet is owned by Lajos Simicska, an oligarch and a former key ally of Orban, turned staunch opponent after falling out in 2015.

Simicska's media empire, which also includes broadcaster HirTV, has suffered heavy losses as the publications were deprived of state advertising.

Mertek Institute media analyst Gabor Polyak said it was only a matter of time before Simicska shut down his unprofitable media organisations after the elections.

Polyak pointed out however that the Hungarian advertising market is not working properly due to the overwhelming government influence.

"State advertisements are tools of exerting political pressure. If a company advertises in Magyar Nemzet for instance, that is considered by the government as taking a political stand, so that company risks being singled out by the state for inspection and other forms of harassment," Polyak told EUobserver, adding that Hungarian independent media is struggling to find advertisements.

"State advertisement designates where is it allowed and not allowed to have advertisement," he added.

At the same time, Simicska is also running out of money.

Once one of the main beneficiaries of contracts stemming from EU cohesion funds, Simicska has been losing out heavily on public tenders since he broke with his childhood friend, Orban.

He has vowed to bring down Orban, and many expected an "atomic bomb" from him, incriminating information on the prime minister or top politicians from Orban's Fidesz party that could change the widely expected outcome the elections. That never materialised due to Simicska's suspected own involvement in corruption.

Magyar Nemzet has recently revealed several corruption stories that shed light on the high-level graft within top Fidesz circles. Before turning against Orban, Magyar Nemzet was considered a pro-government newspaper loyal to Fidesz.

"Magyar Nemzet has become an important hub for journalism recently, they have become important in uncovering corruptions stories," Polyak said, adding that the situation of Hungary's journalists was tragic.

Since Orban had lost support of Simicska's media empire, the prime minister's top aides built another Fidesz-friendly media empire by buying stakes in media and advertising businesses, and the government also turned the state media into the government's mouthpiece.

In 2016 businessmen close to Orban purchased then shut down Nepszabadsag, the country's top opposition newspaper. The premier's top circles also bought nearly all regional dailies.

The remaining independent publications with widespread reach are the news website Index.hu, owned by Simicska associates, and the RTL television group owned by Germany's Bertelsmann.

Orban, who held a press conference on Tuesday did not comment in detail about the closure of Magyar Nemzet.

"The government and me personally are not involved in business affairs. These are privately owned publications, their owners will decide their fate," he said.

After Fidesz secured a sweeping two-thirds majority in parliament on Sunday's general election, the expectation is high that the media, the courts and NGOs will be put further under political pressure.

Fidesz has already announced that it will introduce the Stop Soros legislation packagewhich targets NGOs dealing with migration.

Analysis

Orban, the 'anti-Merkel', emboldens European right

Hungary's premier Viktor Orban has inspired 'illiberalism' across central Europe and far-right politicians in the West. His expected re-election this Sunday will further reinforce his standing as a symbol for being tough on Europe's political mainstream.

Commission takes Orban's Hungary to court

The EU executive steps up several probes over Hungary's illiberal tendencies, while it is also suing Poland and the Czech Republic over migrant quotas.

Analysis

Orban, the 'anti-Merkel', emboldens European right

Hungary's premier Viktor Orban has inspired 'illiberalism' across central Europe and far-right politicians in the West. His expected re-election this Sunday will further reinforce his standing as a symbol for being tough on Europe's political mainstream.

News in Brief

  1. Audit office: Brexit 'divorce' bill could be billions higher
  2. MEPs urge better protection for journalists
  3. Dieselgate: MEPs back greater role for EU in car approvals
  4. European parliament adopts new organic farming rules
  5. EU granted protection to half million people in 2017
  6. Report: Facebook to carve 1.5bn users out of EU privacy law
  7. Greek court ruling permits migrants to travel to mainland
  8. Commonwealth summit hopes for trade boost after Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  2. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  3. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  4. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  5. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  6. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  7. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMacedonians in Bulgaria Demand to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  10. Counter BalanceThe EIB Needs to Lead by Example on Tax Justice
  11. ILGA EuropeTrans People in Sweden to be Paid Compensation for Forced Sterilisation
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsThe Danger of Standing Up for Justice and Rights in Central Asia

Latest News

  1. ECJ ruling set to end 10-year 'mouth tobacco' lobbying saga
  2. Whistleblowers, Syria and digital revolution This WEEK
  3. MEP friendship groups offer 'backdoor' for pariah regimes
  4. Macron and Merkel pledge euro reform
  5. Obscurity surrounds EU military fund's expert groups
  6. New EU party finance rules short circuit accountability
  7. Draghi to stay in secretive 'lobby' group
  8. Bulgaria offers lesson in tackling radical-right populists

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Must Work Together to Promote Global Steel Sector
  2. Swedish EnterprisesEU Tax Proposal on Digital Services Causes Concern for Small Exporting Economies
  3. Europea Jewish CongressCondemns the Horrific Murder of Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris
  4. Mission of China to the EUAn Open China Will Foster a World-Class Business Environment
  5. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  6. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  7. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  8. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  9. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  10. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  12. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights