Listening to television news at MTV, Duna TV, and ATV

As hundreds of employees at MTV, Duna TV, and MR are being dismissed there is a huge outcry in the Hungarian media, which is not surprising given the collegial sympathies within the profession. The outcry is particularly strong in that small segment of the media that is critical of the present government. Papers close to the Orbán government didn't spend much time on the topic or show much sympathy towards the victims of the reorganization. In Magyar Nemzet, for example, there were only two brief news items on the subject lately. On July 5 it was announced that altogether 550 people will lose their jobs at the three institutions immediately and by the fall the numbers will reach 1,000. That is about one-third of the whole staff. Today another article announced that the decrease in numbers was inevitable given the new organization of the public media. Period.

The reorganization means that the news for the three media outlets will be compiled centrally by MTI (Magyar Távirati Iroda), the official Hungarian news agency. Since I found MTV's news very poor even before this reorganization, I decided to take a look at yesterday's evening news on MTV and Duna TV to see what MTI came up with. And then compare these broadcasts to that on ATV.

First, MTV evening news. Admittedly, it was very hot yesterday in Hungary–a record-breaking 35.8C (96.4F) in Budapest. But does the news really have to spend almost 9 minutes out of 26 on the subject? After they finished with the report on Budapest, they moved on to Pécs and Szeged. In Pécs they talked to the Fidesz mayor about the heat, but the socialist mayor of Szeged wasn't given the opportunity to share his meteorological words of wisdom.

The second item was genetically modified corn, which is strictly forbidden in Hungary. To be sure that Hungary will not have any genetically modified produce in the foreseeable future, the present government found a place for the ban in the new constitution. And horribile dictu, the authorities found not just modified but genetically contaminated corn on 400 hectares. Well, that was the end of this crop. They spent almost three minutes on this subject.

There was a brief mention of a government plan to raise the price of certain drugs for people who have asthma or pulmonary diseases and who still smoke. The so-called "hamburger tax" on unhealthful foods was referenced with a report that Antal Rogán (Fidesz) proposed a change in the bill that would exempt canned soups and sauces from the list.

After that came, for about the third day in a row, the story that in a summer camp about thirty children became sick. By now everybody is well but MTI still sent someone to a hospital only to announce that all children have left already and the camp was closed.

There was a murder in Budapest and miraculously the Hungarian police found the man immediately, a Serbian citizen who had a huge arsenal of arms with him. He was found in a pig sty somewhere fifty kilometers from the Hungarian-Serbian border. He has already confessed to killing his girlfriend.

Then came two very brief foreign new items. Some demonstrators heading to Tel-Aviv were detained at Orly Airport in Paris. And The News of the World in London ceased publication.

Between this meager foreign news and the announcement that the uniform of the Forma-1 drivers will be decorated with Hungarian folk motifs we learned that the employees of the public media are planning a demonstration for next week. There was an interview with the spokeswoman of a newly established media authority who assured everybody that political considerations play no role in the selection of those who receive pink slips. And finally, we learned about the last Harry Potter film.

All in all, very poor and hideously boring.

The big difference between MTV and Duna TV was that Duna TV didn't start with the heatwave. The corn was the lead story, followed by the weather. The heat was discussed in only two minutes instead of eight and the time they gained that way was devoted to genetically modified corn in Romania. Of course, we heard the same stories about the camp and the children who are no longer sick, and the more expensive medication for those who smoke.The fired public media employees got the same kind of coverage as on MTV. Some news items about the Hungarian minority in Romania and Ukraine followed, mostly complaints about the lot of the Hungarian minorities.  Naturally, the decoration of the Forma-1 uniforms couldn't be missed, and the news ended with Harry Potter.

So, let's see what ATV found important in the day's news. After a brief mention of serious differences of opinion between István Tarlós and the mayors of the districts, ATV moved on to former Prime Minister Péter Boros's criticism of the military judge who refused to keep the three men accused of spying in pre-trial detention. In this connection it was mentioned that Péter Tarján, an expert on national security matters, found the handling of the alleged espionage on the part of the national security people unprofessional.

ATV reported on The Economist's article on Hungary's European presidency: it considered Hungary's performance "modestly successful" but mentioned several problems posed by the media law, the constitution, and the report of the Venice Commission. ATV then talked about the sacking of the employees of the three public media organs and announced that there will be a demonstration next week.

We also learned that in the town of Devecser where the red sludge ruined almost every building, eight families could move into new townhouses. There are 100 empty lots available. A new building was occupied by the Devecser police, which is bigger and better than ever.

The weather got a minute or two of coverage, and the murder was naturally also reported on.

But then came something that we heard nothing of on the public television stations: foreign news. DSK's earlier alleged rape-attempt in France was mentioned. They managed to find space for the news that Berlusconi will not run for office in two years. ATV spotted the item in The Washington Times from which it is clear that an Egyptian politician invited by the Tom Lantos Institute to attend the Conference on Democracy and Human Rights in Budapest denies the holocaust and considers Anne Frank's Diary a fake. And finally there were a couple of news items from the United States: the Michigan murderer who after killing seven people committed suicide and Atlantis's last journey into space. Finally a couple of soccer items.

I might also mention that after this half-hour news comes a program devoted entirely to foreign affairs. Those watching ATV learned almost everything important that happened in the world that day from Syria to Pakistan and South Sudan.

Tomorrow I will listen to yesterday's news at the two apparently most popular television channels: RTL Klub and TV2.  

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gaz - vagy - rab - nemzet
gaz - vagy - rab - nemzet

and poor hungarians do not read or watch foreign news sources.
they can remain undeterred patriots under rakosi, kadar or orban or morvai.
moldova gyorgy wrote mikszathian parodies about the eternal hungarian patriot.

Eva S. Balogh

gaz-rab-nemzet: “and poor hungarians do not read or watch foreign news sources.”
Sure you are right about MTV’s evening news. But Johnny Boy knows English and I assume he reads foreign news but it seems that it doesn’t make the slightest difference.


I haven’t watched Hungarian TV to any extent (i.e. anything other than Minimax!) for 5 or 6 years, so sorry if this seems silly – but what is ATV?
When we did have a TV, we only had MTV, TV2 and RTL Klub (and the astonishingly awful Debrecen TV!), so I assume ATV is a cable station?
As for the news content Éva details, this matches my memory very well. To an outsider, Hungarian ‘national’ news always seems like a local news roundup. I never ceased to be puzzled by the things that were considered to be of national importance on TV news.
As for watching TV2 and RTL Klub, if they’re are still anything like I remember, then good luck! You’re going to need it. I have never seen such dire TV.

Eva S. Balogh

Paul: “but what is ATV? When we did have a TV, we only had MTV, TV2 and RTL Klub (and the astonishingly awful Debrecen TV!), so I assume ATV is a cable station?”
Correct. It is a cable station. Moreover, and that is most amazing for someone living in the West, it is owned by a fundamentalist church. At the moment it is the only non-Fidesz station in Hungary that deals with political matters. The other two (RTL Klub and TV2 apparently avoid politics altogether.
I happen to have met last summer the man who is responsible for news and I think very highly of him. Olga Kálmán whose program, Straight Talk (Egyenes beszéd), is a real gem. She asks hard questions from both Fidesz and opposition politicians. She has won every prize a journalist can possibly win. In addition, she is pretty and has a good sense of humor. I hope I will meet her one day in person. That is if ATV will survive the Fidesz onslaught. I’m not at all sure that KlubRádió will survive it. They certainly want to shut it off although thousands are protesting.


Thanks Éva – strange indeed that we have to rely on a fundamentalist church to provide people with genuine news and political investigation. What church is it?
“RTL Klub and TV2 apparently avoid politics altogether”
They also avoid style, class, education, ethics, quality, real news…
Absolutely appalling TV. The only good thing about either station is that you don’t need to be able to speak Hungarian to understand most of it!

Eva S. Balogh

Paul: “strange indeed that we have to rely on a fundamentalist church to provide people with genuine news and political investigation. What church is it?”
It is called “Hitgyülekezet” which I normally translate as Assembly of God and everyt time I’m being told that it is not a part of the American church called Assembly of God but a genuine separate, Hungarian entity. I know little about it.


An interesting piece on ATV, Hitgyulekezete and Fidesz from Bartus Laszlo (in Hungarian).
Also, a newer piece on ATV:
Bartus basically argues that Hitgyulekezete made an agreement with Fidesz, so that Fidesz would acknowledge them as a church in the new law on churches. This means that even the voice of the opposition, ATV is controlled by Fidesz.. in a very indirect way. That is ATV can’t go too far.
Don’t know if he is absolutely right, but he does know Hitgyulekezete, as he used to be member of the church. He wrote a book about them, years ago… a very interesting read indeed. Here is the link to the book.

late night

Well, the Hungarian “citizen” is facing the next oligarchical regime. Nothing new to him! So we can be certain, Orban will get his whatever valuation shortly, based mainly on how much butter he can deliver on the bread. Also, the people are so cynical by now, that one can doubt any religious resorgimento would succeed. Now, is this ground for hope or despair? It depends.


An: Be careful. Bartus is not a reliable source when it comes to ATV and Hit Gyulekezete.


The young Hungarians that I know (my wife’s family and their friends) all speak English and watch not only ATV but also CNN and Al Jazeera on satellite or the internet – so have a broad spectrum to choose from …
The older ones either watch RTLKlub (those terrible and abominable soap operas and (un)reality shows)- or if they’re intelligent like my neighbour and my wife they prefer National Geographic and Spectrum, only rarely the state channels – like a few days ago when MTV1 showed “A Tanu” or Duna2 showed some black and white really hilarious gem about Hungarian soldiers in a castle masquerading in WW2 …

Johnny Boy

Yes MTV is bad.
But it is not any worse than it was between 2002-2010. In 2002 there was the largest demostration ever for media freedom, on the square in front of MTV’s hq (the same square where the 2006 riots started).
MTV said NO SINGLE WORD about the demonstration where well over 100.000 people were attending.
In those times it was an MSZP tv with Fidesz in opposition, now it is the other way around.
By the way, there is no indication that the mass layoffs were politically motivated. There are many people among the fired who just begun their work after last year’s elections.
In my view, Fidesz is too much of a screw-up to do even this politically.
And they again made the mistake of not saying anything about the layoffs, giving room for the opposition’s “journalists” to be their voice the only one on this matter.
I think there will soon be a huge crowd of applicants targeting ATV. Then we’ll see, compared to other TV stations, if the layoffs were politically selective or not.


@hucpan I realize he has a strong bias against hitgyulekezete. If you read his book, it is obvious he is not a fan of that church. I personally find his story believable. And it is very much possible that fidesz is putting or trying to put pressure on hitgyulekezete with the new law on churches.


“It is called “Hitgyülekezet” which I normally translate as Assembly of God and everyt time I’m being told that it is not a part of the American church called Assembly of God but a genuine separate, Hungarian entity. I know little about it.”
I usually object to your translation because the church is generally called “Faith Church” in English.
So far as I am aware the church was founded in the late 1970s. Its main Pastor is Sandor Nemeth. It is similar to a Charismatic, Pentecostal or Assembly of God church in the US. I know a guy who was pastor of a non-denominational church in my home town in Northern Ireland who visited Faith Church on some sort of fraternal pastoral visit back in the early 1980s (before the regime change).
I attended a Faith Church service about 5 years ago at their main church in Budapest. It meets in a huge stadium, with maybe 5000 present. The Sunday service was still going strong when I left after 3 hours. Some of it is televised live on ATV (“Vidam Vasarnap”).

Eva S. Balogh

David: “I usually object to your translation because the church is generally called “Faith Church” in English.”
Faith Church sounds very odd in English and the word “Assembly” is there in the original.


So “Assembly of the faith”?


hitgyulekezet – bartus may be right, but the members are elated, happy, assured and grateful to Sandor Nemeth.
tricky problems.
the essential hungarian dilemma. where did we make our biggest mistakes?
independent thinking needed to steer the lost sheep of a great nation back to reason, dignity, fairness, calmness, wealth, and happiness.

Johnny Boy

“But Johnny Boy knows English and I assume he reads foreign news but it seems that it doesn’t make the slightest difference.”
What difference would you like to see?
Do you want to see me agreeing with your outrage when someone is said to say that to him Trianon is the biggest tragedy? Or when the government engages in conflict with counter-interested foreign countries instead of giving in without a word?
Do you really think the “problem” is that such news do not reach most Hungarians? And if these news accessed them, most Hungarians would be outraged too like you?
If you really think like this, you are completely on the wrong track. These news reach the Hungarian public and they like it. Because they simply agree with most of it.
OMG, I’m starting to suspect we were talking about completely different things all the way.


Johnny Boy: “These news reach the Hungarian public and they like it. Because they simply agree with most of it.”
This is totally wrong. THe news is filtered by MTI, Fidesz gives translations to the EU than gives to the Hungarian public, Orban tells International news agencies things that does not tell to the Hungarian public, hires foreign PR firms (so takes away jobs from Hungarians), Orban lied regarding a whole bunch of issue to the workers to get their vote and this is why they are protesting against Fidesz. The teachers, doctors, judges, the press and so forth do not like what they hear and what they read. Fidesz uses Trianon and all the other ideas as to distract from the real issues, simply they lied to be elected and cannot deliver! Nobody likes it except those who are not affected yet, the rich, the well positioned, the Hungarians across the border and politicians. You cannot show any others. Those who get the news are turning away from Fidesz and this why their popularity in huge decline. Facts!

Johnny Boy

Some1: not facts, totally wrong opinion.
I’m not going to repeat myself. Reality counters almost everything you wrote, with the exception of the protesters. Fidesz still wins high at local elections and almost all decisions with high implications are supported by the vast majority of the electorate.
And the “Trianon and all the other ideas” are not distractions, these are integral parts of Fidesz’s ideology and always were, and voters expect it from them.

ismeret - nemzet
New knowledge? Demographics of hungarians, and non-hungarians in the territories taken by trianon? Hungary lost 64% of its total population in consequence of the Treaty of Trianon, which was decreased from 20.9 million to 7.6 million,[34] and 31% (3.3 out of 10.7 million) of its ethnic Hungarians,[31] Hungary lost five of its ten most populous cities. According to the census of 1910, the largest ethnic group in the Kingdom of Hungary were Hungarians, who were 54,5% of the population of Kingdom of Hungary, excluding Croatia-Slavonia. Although the territories of the former Kingdom of Hungary that were assigned by the treaty to neighbouring states in total had a majority of non-Hungarian population, they also included areas of Hungarian majority and significant Hungarian minorities, numbering 3,318,000 in total. The number of Hungarians in the different areas based on census data of 1910. The present day location of each area is given in parenthesis. * In Upper Hungary (Slovakia): 885,000 – 30% * In Transylvania (Romania): 1,662,948 – 31.6% * In Vojvodina (Serbia): 420,000 – 28% * In Transcarpathia (Ukraine): 183,000 – 30% * In Croatia: 121,000 – 3.5% * In Prekmurje (Slovenia): 14,065 – 15% * In Burgenland (Austria): 26,200 – 9%… Read more »

Ismeret-nemzet: I am afraid it is not entirely new knowledge what you presented altough certainly interesting. But you omitted to reveal why we were given the chance to refresh our knowledge of the losses of Hungary in 1920.


Johnny Boy: The previous 200 subjects (or more) are all filled with facts, statistics, survey data, etc. It is your choice (as always) to ignore them. I am not going to repeat them, as it the list would be, well 200 sentences at least. I am also not sure what is not factual about the doctors, lawyers, firefighters, policemen protests in writing or in person against the Fidesz’ doings (fact). Do you want fingerprints from them?
– It is only the Fidesz who hires extras for crowd, as on March 15 (fact)! (Maybe even in 2002, now that I am thinking about it.)
– April 11, 2010 Fidesz Brochure about how Gyurcsany raised the retirement age, and wants to privatize the pensions (which they did not). Fidesz did it! (fact)
– The popularity of Fidesz in decline (fact)
-Fidesz provides inaccurate translation to the EU (fact)
– Fidesz hires foreign PR firm to help to restore its image (fact)
– Fidesz refuses to hold a referendum about the constitution.
(fact) Or did you see one?
– News are filtered by MTI. (fact) See Eva’s previous entry.
All the other problems are well documented in previous posts, so look them up on your own.


“Faith Church sounds very odd in English and the word “Assembly” is there in the original.”
This may be correct, but if we do a Google search for “Faith Church Budapest” we get the church’s own website where it calls itself “Faith Church” and a Wikipaedia entry for the church in English where it is called “Faith Church”. The curious can find it with no confusion. Perhaps “Faith Congregation” or “Faith Assembly” is a more literal translation from Hungarian, but why reinvent the wheel?

Kolpin ATV

“But Johnny Boy knows English and I assume he reads foreign news but it seems that it doesn’t make the slightest difference.”