The Central European Foundation of Press and Media was set up, meaning the foundation of a non-profit media holding as a symbol of right-wing unity. It took only a few hours to reorganise the complete pro-government media; the total centralisation was completed with just two announcements.
The announcements suggest that the owners of the media outlets built around Viktor Orbán’s government were not real masters of these right-wing journals, websites, television channels and radios, hence they willingly gave away media outlets worth billions, at the same time, with immediate effect, 24.hu reports.
“Lőrinc Mészáros, businessman, Ádám Matolcsy, son of the president of the Hungarian National Bank, Mária Schmidt, historian, Árpád Habony, businessman and politician, Tibor Győri, former legal counsel of Viktor Orbán, and other right-wing media owners offered their journals to a foundation; they do not own any newspapers, television channels and radios anymore.”
As the first step of the process, Lőrinc Mészáros announced he bought,
- Gábor Liszkay’s Magyar Idők,
- The king of the casino business, Andy Vajna’s Lapcom,
- Inform Media publishing three county papers and being the property of the Austrian Heinrich Pecina who shut down Népszabadság,
- and the issuer of Szabad Föld from László Puch.
444 was the first to write about the centralisation in August, while 24.hu announced the foundation of the Central European Press and Media Foundation at the end of September.
The president of the foundation will be István Varga, a legal practitioner
who was honoured with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.
The only medium not included in the new foundation was the television channel of Andy Vajna, namely TV2, mostly due to its complex legal situation and contracts. However, the acquisition of the commercial television channel is certainly just a matter of time, although all the other relevant members of right-wing media will be in the hands of one organisation:
- all county papers with more than 300 thousand copies sold,
- Origo.hu, one of the most-read Hungarian news sites with approximately 600 thousand readers daily,
- the second biggest tabloid, Bors, with 50 thousand copies published, as well as Ripost, with hundreds of thousands of readers online but with minimal copies sold,
- the only free newspaper published in large quantities, Lokál,
- Hír TV and Echo TV, two national television channels with a few thousand viewers,
- many radio stations,
- 476 media outlets according to Átlátszó.
Complete centralisation has never happened before in the history of Hungarian media. Nothing prohibits companies to appoint their fortune to a foundation, but it was unprecedented that dozens of owners did so at the same moment. The government’s actions were criticised earlier by the Guardian.
Featured Image: MTI/Balázs Szecsõdi