They are being supported with billions of public money to make it the most busy public service in the region

The National Endowment for Democracy and the Measure Media Analysis Workshop are joint in its report It examined the media market situation in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia and its changes over the past three years. The international comparison showed that in Hungary the public service media has become vulnerable to political influence, and strong overfunding increases the service provider’s loyalty to the current governing parties.

According to the study, the role of political intervention is traditionally greater in Central Europe, but the state of the Hungarian public media is outstandingly poor in the region. While in the countries studied, editors try to resist pressure, domestic actors tend to be biased and lack impartial and independent broadcasting.

The couple of the Media Services Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA) and Duna Médiaszolgáltató Nonprofit Zrt. Operate in a public service model whose organizational structure is opaque and its financing is not transparent. The former is responsible for the production of almost the entire range of public service media, and since the members of the Media Council are appointed by the ruling party, it is virtually impossible to have independent control over the institution.

They don’t regret the money

Image: NMHH / Measure

It can be seen from the above figure that MTVA is highly financed: in 2021 it can already manage HUF 117.7 billion, and the share of the central budget – this is what the state gives to the public media – is very high every year, typically around 90 percent. The growing trend over the years is well illustrated by the fact that while in 2011 the annual budget was only 30.3 billion, by 2022 – the NMHH’s budget for next year. bill According to them, they can already count on a planned budget of 130.1 billion. In the year of the parliamentary elections, the public media budget may increase by almost HUF 13 billion.

With regard to the elections, many suspect that the gigantic amount in the proposal could even increase: in the year of the 2018 parliamentary elections, the difference between the amount planned and the amount achieved was outstanding. The pro-government majority of the Parliament voted HUF 80.9 billion for the year in question, but they exceeded the budget by almost HUF 17 billion, after the final amount kicked in to HUF 97.7 billion. Telex in a previous article.

It cites party state times

According to the analysis, it is no coincidence that many refer to channels as state media: broadcasting practices are very similar to what audiences are accustomed to during communism. There is constant criticism of the European Union, central messages and pro-Russian narratives. And as long as openly pro-government political analysts are regularly present, opposition politicians and independent experts are not even invited.

The Media Act stipulates that the purpose of the public service media service is to provide balanced, objective and nuanced information and to report on local, national and European events and disputes affecting citizens. This news should help the community to make informed decisions in the knowledge of the diversity of information through the presentation of conflicting opinions. In contrast, many believe that, among other things, the opposition pre-election, which was attended by more than 800,000 people, was ignored by neither the public media nor the MTI, and the most important domestic political event of the period was almost completely ignored.

The role of the microphone stand is further strengthened by the Free Europe audio from the leaked material: the leaked material reveals that the editorial directive is clearly a representation of pro-government communication. According to this, the lack of information is not the result of a series of professional mistakes, but rather a managerial expectation. The bias of the public service media was previously noted by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in its investigation of the 2018 parliamentary elections: M1 reported bias in its editorial coverage in favor of the governing coalition, which accounted for about 61 percent of the news. On average, 96 percent of this was positive, while 82 percent of reports to the opposition were negative.

It distorts the market

Although the popularity of public service television channels is lower, with an overall market share of 10.3 per cent, an analysis of news consumption patterns shows that it is still the third most important source of information. Even if the viewership of each channel is not outstanding, the overall public service portfolio reaches a relatively wide audience. The prestige of public media among young people is quite low, with older audiences tending to stick to traditional television channels and radios.

Although the study found subdued demand – television and online audience ratios are not very high, so its impact on the market is only modest – there are areas where channels play a particularly significant role. Public service broadcasters have a significant share of the radio market – they reached an audience share of 35.8% in 2020 – so they are in a stronger position with a small number of players, watching in relative terms (similar to Romania, for example). Public service sports channels have a competitive advantage in that they can buy and produce broadcasts from public funds, as opposed to privately owned companies. As well as the inevitable commercial competitors of MTI in the news market, which operates as part of MTVA and offers free services, have been eliminated over the years, leaving the state-owned news agency in a monopoly position. Although in the region the television channels and radio stations belong to the same institution – it works similarly in Slovakia – the news agency integrated into the public service media is still considered a Hungaricum.

The Measure in its summary adds that in two of the countries examined – the Czech Republic and Romania – the political map is currently changing, which could bring about a turnaround in the functioning of the public service media.


Source: Napi.hu by www.napi.hu.

*The article has been translated based on the content of Napi.hu by www.napi.hu. If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!