The most popular online news sites in Hungary, and around half of the main newspapers and broadcasters, are vehemently critical of the government. Something you cannot really call a totalitarian media landscape.
„If Hungary’s news industry is drifting towards the Putinist model of a controlled state media it has a long way to go. The most popular online news sites in Hungary, and around half of the main newspapers and broadcasters, are vehemently critical of the government. Something you cannot really call a totalitarian media landscape. However, they are all struggling with vanishing advertisers and are financially overexposed to their owners’ business interests and government PR spending.
This story is about how foreign media ownership distorted a small market and left it highly vulnerable when search engines hijack ad revenues, and social media demolish traditional news distribution. (...)
Western media conglomerates bought up Hungarian newspapers like cheap candy in 1989 and 1990, before, during and immediately after the first free democratic parliamentary elections. For example, in the very final hours of Hungarian communism, in 1990, the German company, Axel Springer, the WAZ group, an Austrian and an English investor struck hasty deals with the communist party (or its successor, MSZP), to buy regional newspapers (with a combined daily circulation of at least 1.2 million people at that time).
Since news publishing is no longer a profitable business, and in the face of falling circulation, these very same grocers have recently been seen »restructuring their portfolios« or fleeing their Hungarian investments altogether.
Any independent and free press in a democracy (and Hungary is still one, contrary to popular assumptions in the western media) needs sound financial foundations, a viable business model of quality journalism. This is something that the news industry does not have any more, not only in Hungary but in the whole western world.”