In the last three months of summer the Hungarian government spent €7.6 million on anti-Soros advertising. It also paid €2.8 million for PR articles about its own actions, spent €1.6 million on promoting the FINA world championships and spent €4.3 million on advertising the Erzsebet summer camp program for disadvantaged children.
This was revealed after Atlatszo.hu filed a freedom of information request with the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister to find out how much money was spent on advertising by the government in July, August and September. Altogether €16.5 million was spent on promoting the government´s agenda in the three months in question. The Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, led by Antal Rogan, is responsible for this job. The department is already called ´Propaganda Ministry’ by many people in Hungary.
Atlatszo has been following how much taxpayer money is spent by the government on promoting itself and its agenda. At the end of September we revealed that the Hungarian government spent €23 million (HUF 7.2 billion) on its anti-Soros and anti-EU propaganda campaign between April and July.
Where did all this money go?
The other side of the story is even more interesting: where did the government spend this money, who were the biggest beneficiaries?
Similar to the earlier propaganda campaign, the biggest winner was Lorinc Meszaros again. He is the mayor of the village where prime minister Viktor Orban hails from, and as Bloomberg has put it, a more successful businessmen than Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, if we look at the pace how his business empire expands. Meszaros’s media companies (Mediaworks and Echo TV) got €4 millon from the above-mentioned €16.4 million budget.
Second place goes to Andras Tombor, close business partner of government spin doctor Arpad Habony. His companies (Atmedia, Media Services Company Kft. and Mandiner) got €2.9 million.
Third place goes to Arpad Habony himself: his Modern Media Group (MMG) Zrt. (publishing free daily Lokal and website 888.hu) got €1.6 million.
Next is film producer and Hungarian government appointee for the film sector Andy Vajna. His TV2 channel, and radio and newspaper companies (Radio Plus and Lapcom) got €1.2 million.
Here is a chart with all the big winners of the latest propaganda campaign, broken down by companies.
The government turns to native advertising
A new feature of the latest propaganda campaign is native advertising. This was the first time that the Hungarian government decided to commission news-like stories about its own actions and successes in the media.
The free daily Lokal, published by Arpad Habonys media company, featured many such articles: success stories from the education sector, of border guards and soldiers, job growth, family benefits and tax cuts. At the end of these stories there is a disclaimer stating that its publication was supported by the Hungarian Government.
Most of the money for these PR articles went to Mediaworks, owned by Lorinc Meszaros. But there were such articles published in many outlets generally sympathetic to Orban: they appeared in Lokal, 888.hu, pestisracok.hu, Ripost, mandiner.hu and in Magyar Idok.
Written by Katalin Erdelyi
You can read the original story in Hungarian here.
You can see the entire database about how the advertising money was spent here. The database was created by Atlatszo based on the PDF documents we were sent by
the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister.
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