Viktor ORBÁN

Prime Minister of Hungary since 29 May 2010 

(after serving initially in 1998-2002) 

 Predator since taking office 

Hungary, 92th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index

    PREDATORY METHOD: Political-economic scams, discrediting, self-censorship

    Self-proclaimed champion of “illiberal democracy,” Viktor Orbán has not stopped, since returning to power in 2010, from attacking media pluralism and independence. After public broadcasting was turned into a propaganda organ, private media were subjugated or reduced to silence. The methods may be subtle or brazen, but they are always efficient. Thanks to political-economic manoeuvres and the purchase of media companies by oligarchs close to Fidesz, the ruling party, it now controls 80 per cent of the country’s media landscape. At the top is the Kesma foundation, which owns approximately 500 pro-government media organisations. The remaining independent media are discriminated against in government advertising and access to official information. Their journalists are systematically denigrated in pro-government media, which call them purveyors of “fake news.” This charge was made a criminal offence during the Covid-19 crisis, with the effect of self-censorship on journalists and their sources. These varied predatory techniques have proved so effective that they have inspired Orbán’s Polish and Slovenian allies.

    FAVOURITE TARGETS: Independent media holdouts

    After the closing of the daily Népszabadsag and oligarchs’ assumption of control over news sites and, the government has targeted the RTL channel, the daily Népszava, and weeklies HPV, Magyar Hang, Magyar Narancs, and the site. The latest move: a political decision by the supposedly independent radio-television regulatory agency to deprive Klubrádio of its broadcast frequency.


    We must fight against…media maintained by foreign groups and domestic oligarchs.” (Speech delivered in 2018 to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the 1848 revolution).


    “This is not the go into hospitals in order to produce staged videos or spread fake news.” (Response to a demand by 28 independent media for access to hospitals and to interviews with medical personnel during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021).

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