Listening to Hungarian government propaganda: MTV and MR

Yesterday a newcomer to this blog posted a comment in which he said that he refuses to believe news reports that are broadcast on Klubrádió. In this particular instance, that 350,000 Hungarians work abroad and that this number constitutes 7.4% of the population between the ages of 18 and 49. That incredible closed-mindedness inspired me to do some research on the subject.

First, the news naturally didn’t originate with Klubrádió. The station relied on Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI), the official Hungarian news agency, which since 2010 is no longer an independent organization but functions under government supervision. Also, while earlier news organizations had to pay for the wire service, since 2010 the Hungarian government “generously” provides the service free of charge. MTI thus has a monopoly; all news outlets rely either in large part or exclusively on MTI’s increasingly biased summaries.

I decided to take a look at how various media outlets reported the news of July 11, 2013, the day the Central Statistical Office (KSH) released two important items. The first dealt with the latest figures on living standards or more precisely on the situation of people who live at or below the subsistence level. A couple of hours later came the surprising news about the high numbers of Hungarians who work abroad.

The figures about the plight of more than half of the population who live in very modest circumstances or in outright poverty appeared in practically all publications. It was only the extent of the coverage that varied. I went to the website of MTI to find the original news release. Pro-government papers (Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hírlap) copied the MTI summary without changing a word. That summary was brief indeed: 292 words. It is educational to take a look at the original release of KSH to see that MTI was especially loath to give any past figures that would have shown that the situation is getting worse and worse every year. The opposition papers for the most part were not satisfied with simple copying; they went to the original source and did their own summaries of KSH’s report.

When it comes to the 350,000 Hungarians working abroad, Magyar Nemzet and Magyar Hírlap decided not to include this particular MTI news report in their papers. I guess they thought that it would be bad for business for their highly nationalistic readership to be confronted with such depressing news. This morning, however, both papers ran lengthy articles about what Tibor Navracsics had to say in response to the news. Navracsics delivered a speech to a meeting of Fidelitas, Fidesz’s youth organization, in which he tried to cheer up his audience by pointing out that the trend of young men and women leaving the country “can be reversed.” The faithful Fidesz supporters who refuse to read any other papers might have been somewhat baffled about this mysterious “trend” they never heard of.

I took the trouble to read all the MTI releases for July 11 and noted those items I found most significant over and above the two reports of KSH. (1) György Surányi, former chairman of the Hungarian National Bank, and Attila Chickán, minister of economics in the first Orbán administration, announced that in fact the present Orbán government is not “doing better” than its predecessor. (The current Fidesz slogan is “Hungary is doing better.”) (2) The Orbán government allocated from the reserves 4 billion forints for higher education and 1 billion for sports. (3) Együtt 2014-PM at last managed to get registered. (4) MTI released a graph that showed that average teachers’ salaries have decreased since 2010. (5) Barroso will attend a conference in Warsaw where they will discuss the future of Europe. (6) A graph showed the deficit of the central government and the municipalities for the first six months of the year. (7) The Croatian prosecutors’ office asked its Hungarian counterpart to allow them to interrogate Zsolt Hernádi, CEO of MOL, who is suspected in a bribery case in Croatia. As we will see later, none of these items was discussed either on Magyar Rádió, the public radio station that can be heard everywhere in the country, or on MTV, the Hungarian public television station.

Source: bluntradio.org

Source: bluntradio.org

Let me start with “Hiradó” (News) of MTV. Here all news is good news. (1) Inflation is low. Only 1.9%. (2) In the future 60% of EU subsidies will go to stimulate economic growth which will be impressive. (3) Small- and medium-size companies get more government assistance than at any time before. (4) An Irish company invested a billion forints in Szolnok. (5) The government signed several new strategic agreements with foreign companies. (6) At no time were government bonds as popular both at home and abroad as now. It shows that investors trust the Hungarian government’s economic policy. (7) At last teachers in parochial schools will get the same salary as teachers in state schools. (8) Sándor Burány (MSZP) claimed that Hungarians are poorer today than they were before. Fidesz answered that it is all the former governments’ fault. (9) Benedek Jávor (Együtt-PM) complained about the chaos with the newly introduced E-toll system but Fidesz assured him that all was well. (10) As for Hungarian culture in the world, the folk festival in Washington was a great success; 1.2 million Americans had the opportunity to learn something about Hungary and its culture. (11) The prime minister of  Luxembourg resigned. (12) It is the anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica.

So, this is what apparently most Hungarians hear on MTV’s news. But Mária Vásárhelyi, a sociologist whose field is the media, claims that fewer and fewer people actually watch MTV’s news. The situation is different with Magyar Rádió. According to her, in some houses MR is on all day long; even if people don’t listen very carefully, some of the propaganda gets through.

Well, the menu is not very different on MR from what I heard on MTV. In its Krónika the same stories could be heard practically word for word, even in the same sequence as on Hiradó on MTV. At least on its 5:30 p.m. version. At 8:00 p.m. there was a slightly different set of news items highlighting the same success story. Viktor Orbán’s great plan for saving jobs worked beautifully: 720,000 jobs were saved. At this hour it seems that Hungarian news from the neighboring countries gets special treatment. There were a couple of news items from Romania and Serbia. By 10:00 p.m. there was a lot of talk about the success of Hungarian tourism: 20% more foreigners decided to spend their holidays in Hungary. These people start discovering other parts of the country, not just Lake Balaton. Hungarians seem to be better off too because more of them go on vacation. At least 10% more than last year.

And finally, I combed through the July 11 news items of Klubrádió. Here we have a more balanced account of the news. We hear the good and the bad. They mention the relatively low inflation rate and Varga’s boasting about the 720,000 saved jobs, but they also include the KSH reports and the Croatian prosecutors’ desire to talk to Hernádi.

After spending the whole morning listening to the news of MR and MTV I am not surprised that some media experts claim that by the 1980s even the Kádár regime’s news reporting was of higher quality and more balanced than what Hungarians get today in the so-called democratic Hungary.

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Member

Eva – Two questions about this article:
1) Has anyone ever looked at how MTI handled news releases coming from the various MSZP-SZDSZ governments and compared them to the servile crap that MTI puts out since Fidesz took over?
2) Are you sure on the spelling of Attila Chikan’s name?

andysomos
Guest
Yes! Yes! The propaganda line and its terrible consequences of mind-shrinking effect have been the stuff of deep chagrin for intellectuals (here meaning those capable of comprehending the simplest facts…) now since three years, from the day Fidesz took ‘control’. of MTI, State Radio and TV (Radio having 3 major cross-country FM channel structure and the State TV cosnsitng of 4 natinally financed and broadcast channels. Additionally private right-wing Radio and TV stations abound whereas the left-thinking progressive not-right wing channels can be counted on halfof one hand… I will not go into detail (thats for those more patient than I) – but I’ll never forget the instance where a ‘lackey’ of sorts was told to delete (retouch) from a photo one of the supreme court judges that was causing a ‘problem’ for the government. The ppor guy was dismissed while the man in charge was immediately promoted head of the news department at MTI as a reward” Each time this kind of goose-step is commanded, the hierarchy gets the message: exclude the ‘ennemy’ and their rhetoric and you will be rewarded. Ive been seeing this for now THREE full years every which way I turn . Every government establishement… Read more »
Wondercat
Guest

“The glass is three-quarters full” — “The glass is five-eighths full” — “is half full” — “one-quarter full” — “at least not TOTALLY empty”.

petofi
Guest

When are people going to get over the fact that Viktor is not some crazed zombie but a certain off-kilter, mad, genius; and, that, looking down the road to the mayhem and poverty to come…is exactly what he is aiming for…?

andysomos
Guest

petofi :
When are people going to get over the fact that Viktor is not some crazed zombie but a certain off-kilter, mad, genius; and, that, looking down the road to the mayhem and poverty to come…is exactly what he is aiming for…?

petofi :
When are people going to get over the fact that Viktor is not some crazed zombie but a certain off-kilter, mad, genius; and, that, looking down the road to the mayhem and poverty to come…is exactly what he is aiming for…?

I surmise that what you mean, to paraphrase: is that:
“Orbán is not crazy, he is intentionally desiring the effects of mayhem and poverty”

However In all “politically correct” thinking the latter outcome is considered. to be none other than unacceptable, that is ‘crazy’.does fit the desxription.

The fact is very ufortunate because the result is criminal.

.

Ivan
Guest

As has been mentioned before, there’s nothing new here. I was amazed at MTV coverage of the 2002 election: hours of live coverage of the Fidesz rally on Kossuth ter – little or no coverage of other parties’ events; pictures of then opposition-leader Peter Medgyessy strolling through Budapest, manipulated to make it look as though he had just come out of a sex shop; inexplicable footage of crying babies just after a Medgyessy bon-mot … The hopeful thing is that Fidesz lost that election, despite all this. More negatively, the merry-go-round of cultural and media sackings, across the board, right after an election victory, is something that all governments in Hungary should hang their heads in shame about.

Member

Wondercat :
“The glass is three-quarters full” — “The glass is five-eighths full” — “is half full” — “one-quarter full” — “at least not TOTALLY empty”.

This is a wrong analogy. Here you state the truth (the amount) then you add your opinion (still full).

The Hungarian analogy would be this:

1. The glass is overflowing with fresh Hungarian water.
2. What glass?
3. Gordon Bajnai

petofi
Guest

@andysomos

“…the results are criminal…”

Agreed, but, as is obvious, Orban cares little about ‘criminality’ since it is clear that his perception of legal is what he deems it to be…and desires to pass into Law.

A good question to ask oneself is: “Who, or what country, does the breakdown of the Hungarian state and society favor and why?

Member

petofi :
[Orban] is not some crazed zombie but a certain off-kilter, mad, genius

Genius? It does not take brains to do what Orban’s doing — just opportunism completely unfettered by scruples of any kind.

Sociopathy, megalomania and delusions of grandeur are his sole qualities — wrapped in a goodly dose of paranoia, under a micro-thin skin for criticism.

This is apparent to all but his cult-members.

The real problem is the Hungarian plurality that is ready to fete and follow any unprincipled demagogue that makes the right nationalistic noises.

Guest

Everybody I talk to calls Hungarian state tv “Kiraly tv” – my wife and I now call it “North Korean sate tv” and we only watch their weather forecasts …

Their “news” is such an idiotic collection of irrelevant little stories happening around the country, it’s unbelievable!

enuff
Guest
Bowen
Guest

enuff :
Here are some response from foreigners on the tobacco shop
http://www.hir24.hu/video24/2013/07/12/valami-felnott-bolt-kulfoldiek-a-nemzeti-dohanyboltokrol/

Ah! Those foreign guests! They will never understand the unique complexities of the Hungarian language, or the Hungarian National Tobacco Shops!

Actually, there are a number of interesting points made here. How should tourists know where to buy cigarettes as from the 15th? Oh, who cares about foreign income anyway, right?

All these Nemzeti Dohany Boltok which have popped up around Budapest do look like dodgy sex shops, with their windowless fronts, and no indication whatsoever about what’s inside. It’s not even clear if some of them are open. I wouldn’t be surprised if tobacco sales plummet from here on. I’m not sure what Fidesz really had in mind, though …

andysomos
Guest

NO ONE from any party or group will ever know the complete Tobacco Story Fidesz had in mind, since fidesz has NO mind. Its a mindless monster with its primary motivational force a slew of get-rich-quick schemes that will stand the test of time, that is rock-solidly built into the system to stay put whatever changes time will bring…

They must have an entire secret bureau of legal teams charged with figuring out how to most efficiently and permanently dismantle the former system and make it break-in-proof.

This is called professional gangsterism with a lacquer finish. The language used, however, as alwasay gives these people away. Their argot dosnt hold water….

tappanch
Guest

I made some calculations, based on World Bank data
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

Slovakia & Hungary as % of Austria’s GNI number

Hungary Slovakia
2002 21.6% 24.6%
2004 26.3% 27.1%
2006 27.9% 31.7%
2008 27.5% 34.0%
2010 27.3% 34.1%
2012 25.7% 35.7%

So while Slovakia is getting richer compared with Austria since joining the EU in 2004,
Hungary peaked in 2006.

The deterioration has accelerated since Orban’s takeover in 2010.

LwiiH
Guest

tappanch :
I made some calculations, based on World Bank data
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)
Slovakia & Hungary as % of Austria’s GNI number
Hungary Slovakia
2002 21.6% 24.6%
2004 26.3% 27.1%
2006 27.9% 31.7%
2008 27.5% 34.0%
2010 27.3% 34.1%
2012 25.7% 35.7%
So while Slovakia is getting richer compared with Austria since joining the EU in 2004,
Hungary peaked in 2006.
The deterioration has accelerated since Orban’s takeover in 2010.

is there a statistical difference between 27.5% and 27.3%?

Guest

Has anyone accesse3d this site yet ?
http://factcheck.hu/
Looks very strange to me, obviously not yet finished – or am I too stupid to get it ?

I only find the news in the international media – but not the promised refutations …

Ron
Guest

wolfi :
Has anyone accesse3d this site yet ?
http://factcheck.hu/
Looks very strange to me, obviously not yet finished – or am I too stupid to get it ?
I only find the news in the international media – but not the promised refutations …

What do you expect, it is powered by Nezopont (a Fidesz research institute, or whatever they call themselves).

Bowen
Guest

wolfi :
Has anyone accesse3d this site yet ?
http://factcheck.hu/
Looks very strange to me, obviously not yet finished – or am I too stupid to get it ?
I only find the news in the international media – but not the promised refutations …

Wolfi, it looks like yet another bit of government propaganda, financed by the Hungarian taxpayer. It’s created by Nezopont, which is a very Fidesz-friendly ‘thinktank’.

How much money is this government spending on propaganda, exactly? From high-level PR to blog trolls?

tappanch
Guest

The government slogan that can be heard repeated and repeated in all Hungarian media:
“Hungary is doing/performing better”.

Here are the facts 2012 vs 2010, change in the GNI per capita.
Hungary and neighboring countries.

1. Ukraine +17.1%
2. Slovakia + 7.1%
3. Romania + 5.9%
4. Austria + 2.3%
5. Croatia – 1.9%

6. Hungary – 3.7%
7. Serbia – 4.9%
8. Slovenia – 5.0%

So Hungary is performing better than 2 of the countries indeed, and worse than 5 countries.

tappanch
Guest

Ranking of the former “Socialist” countries in 2012 [2002]

1. Slovenia 100.0% [1.] 100.0%
2. Czechia 79.8% [2.] 58.8%
3. Slovakia 75.6% [3.] 55.0%
4. Estonia 69.7% [7.] 43.8%
5. Latvia 62.4% [8.] 35.6%
6. Lithuania 61.0% [9.] 34.8%
7. Croatia 58.5% [4.] 50.0%
8. Russia 55.9% [10.] 19.5%
9. Poland 55.8% [6.] 45.0%

10. Hungary 54.6% [5.] 48.3%

11. Kazakhstan 42.8%
12. Romania 37.1% [12.] 17.9%
13. Montenegro 30.6% [11.] 18.2%
14. Bulgaria 30.3% [13.] 17.6%

Frans Joseph Meij
Guest

Hi Eva,

Most probably you take notice of this yourself, but better to go for certain.

In my opinion an interesting observation.

http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=663983

Best regards, FransJ

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