Index 2024
67/ 180
Score : 62.98
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
72/ 180
Score : 62.96
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Described as a predator of press freedom by RSF, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has built a true media empire subject to his party’s orders. While independent media outlets hold significant market positions, they are subject to political, economic, and regulatory pressures.

Media landscape

The market is highly concentrated within the KESMA Foundation, serving the government, just like public media, and bringing together about 500 national and local media organisations. However, independent media maintain strong positions in other segments of the national market. They include the RTL Klub television network, the YouTube channel Partizán, the daily Népszava, the weekly HVG, and the, and Telex news sites. 

Political context

Since returning to power in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orban hasn’t stopped undermining media pluralism and independence. After public broadcasting was turned into a propaganda machine, several private media outlets were taken over or silenced. Thanks to political and economic manoeuvres and the buyout of media outlets by oligarchs with close ties to Fidesz, the ruling party, the latter now controls 80% of the country’s media. A month after the 2022 parliamentary elections, which, for the fourth consecutive time, gave an overwhelming majority to Fidesz, the renowned weekly magazine 168 Óra was shut down.

Legal framework

Regulatory agencies – under total control of the ruling party – have absolved themselves of their responsibility to deal with the concentration of ownership of the private media and Fidesz’s control of the public media by claiming lack of jurisdiction. But, in 2021, the agencies arbitrarily banned the last major independent radio station, Klubradio, from the air. The new agency for sovereignty protection, created by a law adopted in 2023, risks becoming a tool for administrative harassment of the media, for smear campaigns and for weakening of the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. 

Economic context

The midsize media market is not accustomed to monetising content, and the sustainable funding of independent media is threatened by the discriminatory allocation of state advertising in favor of pro-government outlets. The shrinking revenue of major news site enabled its takeover in 2020 by entrepreneurs close to Fidesz. The pro-government media giant KESMA has been subject to budget cuts leading to the suspension of some publications.

Sociocultural context

The government regularly accuses critical media of spreading false information and of being financed by George Soros, the American billionaire of Hungarian and Jewish origin, a rhetoric echoed by pro-government media. Furthermore, conservative forces within the Hungarian government have benefited from the weak legal framework to initiate proceedings against journalistic content deemed too liberal.


While Hungarian journalists are not – or only rarely – subject to physical assault or unjustified police interrogation, the Hungarian state is the only European Union member to have arbitrarily monitored journalists using the Pegasus software. In addition, in the context of smear campaigns, journalists critical of the government are harassed online by supporters of the ruling party.

Abuses in real time in Hungary

Killed since 1st January 2024
0 journalists
0 media workers
Detained as of today
0 journalists
0 media workers