RTL Klub’s Híradó: The most popular evening news in Hungary

The Mérték Media Monitor, an institute founded by a group of young sociologists, together with Medián, a well-known polling company, has twice assessed the Hungarian public’s sources for political news. In both 2012 and this year the poll showed that the overwhelming majority (71% in 2015) of Hungarians learn about political events from the two commercial stations, RTL Klub and TV2. The internet followed with about 35%, radio with 21%, and only 5% from the print editions of dailies and weeklies.

The 71% would be an impressive figure if it meant that the respondents regularly tuned in to the evening news of these stations. Alas, this is not the case. Once a week viewing was enough to be included in the 71%.

RTL Klub’s evening news is the most popular (73%), with TV2 at 62%. RTL Klub’s change of programming last summer and fall, which included more political news, often critical of Fidesz and the government, was most likely one of the causes of the steady erosion of support for the government party and Viktor Orbán.

It is worth comparing the content of RTL Klub’s evening news in 2012 with the current coverage. For this comparison I’m fortunate to have detailed data on RTLKlub’s news in 2012 for a whole week from the popular vastagbor.blog.hu‘s “zero,” who felt like Morgan Spurlock who for a whole month ate only McDonald’s fast food for the sake of a documentary. Zero called the experiment “dangerous to your life.”

Of the 141 reports 98 were either about crime and or were human interest stories. But even the 24 so-called domestic political news stories often covered events of lesser importance. For example, during the week, zero heard once that Ferenc Gyurcsány began his hunger strike and again a couple of days later that he finished it. Zero might have been too generous when he came up with 19 reports on foreign affairs. I counted fewer, because some of the so-called foreign news items were in fact human interest stories, except that what happened occurred outside of Hungary. Reading the headlines by itself is a mind numbing experience.

RTC hirado

Well, since then quite a few things have changed around RTL Klub’s newsroom although the anchors remained the same. First of all, today the evening news is 45 minutes long, which is longer than most newscasts around the world. ATV’s “Híradó” is only 20 minutes long, although there are several newscasts during the day. The American PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) has a similarly long evening news “hour,” but they structure it differently: fewer reports but longer analyses and comments from both the left and the right.

RTL Klub’s programming is packed with news items. I counted 28 reports, including the weather, out of which only nine dealt with crime and accidents. Mind you, these stories came at the beginning of the program and lasted about 20 minutes. Interestingly enough, foreign news followed this first segment, with seven news stories, including the Greek situation and its possible effect on the Hungarian forint and the economy, Tunisia, the flood in China, the capture of the second fugitive in upper New York State, and the confrontation in Istanbul between marchers in the Gay Pride parade and the police.

The domestic scene was well covered, starting with the riot in the Debrecen refugee camp and followed by the arrest of a group of smugglers. Among the domestic news items there were at least three that might not have pleased the Fidesz activists monitoring the news. Today Lajos Kósa showed his total ignorance of the situation in countries where most of the refugees come from. He announced that in his opinion all those who illegally cross the borders of Hungary are in fact “economic migrants” because they obviously have enough money to pay the smugglers which, rumor has it, costs at least $3,000 per person. Anyone with that much money, said Kósa, could easily get on a plane and fly anywhere he wants. The only thing Kósa forgot is that one needs passports and visas for such a trip, which clearly the refugees don’t have.

Another story that might not be to the liking of the government party was the piece of news that DK (Demokratikus Koalíció of Ferenc Gyurcsány) will again demand an investigation into György Matolcsy’s failure to include two sources of income in the yearly compulsory declaration of his finances. The first time the prosecutor’s office refused to investigate because, in their opinion, that particular item “had not reached the consciousness” of the bank president for the simple reason that it was intended for and was actually given to charity. After some investigation, however, it turned out that in at least one of the two cases, he gave only part of his non-bank compensation to charity and therefore “the existence of his income must have reached his consciousness.” RTL Klub also found it worth mentioning that Origo is up for sale and that Árpád Habony’s new Modern Média Group is among those who were offered an opportunity to bid for it. By now, I’m sure that even the casual visitor to RTLKlub knows who Habony is and what it would mean if Habony managed to get hold of Origo.

All in all, if one has the patience to listen to the first 20 minutes or so, one can get a fair picture of what’s going on in the world. The foreign news is skimpy, but this is true of all Hungarian TV stations with the exception of ATV, which has a separate daily program devoted to foreign affairs called “Világhíradó,” in addition to a weekly program called “Külvilág,” which usually concentrates on one event in greater length and depth. But overall, RTL Klub is doing a good job, and I understand that their viewership has gone up since they decided to include more political items in their evening newscast.

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Janos Boris (@janos444)
Guest

A minor correction, Eva: it is RTL, not RTC. Apart from that, I completely agree.

w36
Guest

Great analysis entry.
We all have to encourage RTL, to report the Fidesz crimes clearly and accurately.
Good luck to the Hungarian people, to end the Orban era soon.

exTor
Guest

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2014/12/23/janos-lazar-we-want-to-remain-hungarians/comment-page-2/#comment-90744

According Hungarian Spectrum poster ‘galamb’ [above] Origo is “firmly in line with Fidesz’s media strategy”, which means (I guess) that it favors Fidesz. Besides more overt proFidesz pieces, what would change if Habony gets control of Origo?

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest
You know if one reads MMM it suggests that media freedom in Hungary is kind of lolling around more as say an ideal rather than an actuality. Really it is evident that the media in the country are at bottom at the beck and call of government power. It is rigged that way. And even if some print editorial does show a critical view of the government who gets to read it? Most Hungarians from the data appear to get their news from broadcast or the Net. Logical as print is kind of a declining medium into terms of time spent with it. It would appear the opposition would perhaps do better with their communications on the Net and social media. For it is there that people yak away and propose their likes and dislikes and further get emotionally involved in things of the day. As an aside, a check on Russia shows that their ad spending will be rising in Europe during the next few years. Curious how that will be broken down by country , the outlets used and the content of its ‘messages’. With the current ‘marriage’ of Putin and Viktor I wouldn’t be surprised if a… Read more »
Tyrker
Guest

Claiming that the current Origo is “firmly in line with Fidesz’s media strategy” is a gross exaggeration. Now if Habony got control of it, things would change for sure.

selective
Guest
Unfortunately you are wrong. Origo is an unquestionably Fidesz-oriented medium — though its strategy is still to be a rather mainstream site, but now without serious political content and with more “fun” life-style advice and the like. Fidesz smartly segments its media empire and uses all sorts of media for various purposes and target audiences. Origo.hu doesn’t need to be an immigrant-basing (although it does it lately) party mouthpiece to be a meaningful part of Fidesz’ media empire. This purchase by Habony (and his fronts) is more about the government’s being gentlemanly and gaining control of the intellectual property (such as the brand, domain name etc. which are the main assets here) in a legal way. Fidesz could destroy origo.hu in a no time in a completely legal way, but I guess since Magyar Telekom obliged and killed the political content, Janos Lazar is being friendly too — fideszniks will pay a fair amount through some front (aka strómann) so Magyar Telekom can also claim (aka plausible deniability) it doesn’t do direct business with the government. Fidesz always wanted origo.hu and now it’s getting it. Media is absolutely key to retain political power (look at Russia) and it works —… Read more »
gr1981
Guest

Perhaps it is more important than the media that most people are afraid of the ever present government informants.

In work and private, people are afraid to speak out.

The “spitzli” is and old Hungarian spice.

Even the “spitzli” is a pitiful victim of the oppressive regime.

tappanch
Guest

“Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy” by Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics.

“We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems.”

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/greece-referendum-troika-eurozone-by-joseph-e–stiglitz-2015-06

Who owns Greece’s debt?
(Who has the most to lose in case of a Greek bankruptcy ?)
[my calculation]

German gov’t & banks = 25.5%,
French gov’t = 16.4%,
Italian gov’t= 14.4%,
Spanish gov’t= 9.3%,
IMF= 8.0%,
ECB= 6.8%
Dutch gov’t = 5.0%
US banks= 4.2%

Guest

You know the dismal Greek situation appears to be coming to some sort of closure and perhaps defining for Greece, Europe and the ‘Union’. I think I was a bit naive in thinking that Europe would ‘work with’ Greece on solving the great issue but it seems everybody over there in Europe is playing hardball most of the time politically and economically. Getting tougher and tougher to exist on the ‘same page’ in those parts.

I don’t know what the Greek people are going to do on Sunday. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Really they’re in that chess game position called ‘zugzwang’ where they have to make a move with either one very unpalatable. And it leads them and Europe arguably into the unknown.

Guest

Maybe in a few years time Hungary will be in a similar situation – might be very unpleasant for most Hungarians.

gr1981
Guest

Poor Stieglitz is rushing an opinion that is false.

The majority of the easy money from loans to Greece were stolen by corrupt leaders just like in Hungary.

The debt is reaching a critical level now.

Stieglitz should call on the courts to prosecute the financial crimes in Greece, Hungary…..

petofi
Guest

re Stieglitz

If he was correctly quoted, he should be ashamed of himself. Surely the original loans went to Greece, and follow-up loans were sought to pay off creditors. Actually, in banking they used to call this cheque-kiting…borrowing from Tom to pay Harry. It’s also the basis of pyramid banking, too.

Stieglitz should know better; or, was he responding to a monetary donation..?
Or, as the classic joke goes: everyone is a whore, it’s just a matter of what price..

gr1981
Guest

I am a Petofi class man.

We think the same way.

He is the best radical morality here.

tappanch
Guest

The Fidesz rubber stamp Parliament made 19 laws today. This will be followed by another 14 tomorrow. This will include restrictions on freedom of information (they submitted the idea last Friday, so it takes 3 working days to smother democracy further).

http://www.vg.hu/kozelet/politika/rendeltetesszeru-joggyakorlasra-nevelne-a-fidesz-az-allampolgarokat-452894

Ron
Guest

Television cable operators by law are required to reshuffle the station numbering. So RTL Klub was 1 is now 8. ATV was 8 is now 11. Etc, Etc. MTVA occupies numbers 1 to 4.

This is the same stategy they applied to the radio stations. According to me that did not work out. So why do they think it works out now.

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