Propaganda machine

Hungarian government spent €40 million on anti-Soros propaganda in 2017

The Hungarian government spent more than 40 million euros last year on advertising its two ‘national consultations’ and communicating the ‘results’ of those, Atlatszo learned after filing a freedom of information request for the detailed budget of the above-mentioned propaganda campaigns. Nearly third of that money flowed to Lőrinc Mészáros, a close friend of PM Viktor Orbán.

All through 2017 we followed how much money the Hungarian government was spending on propaganda campaigns. At the end of the year we requested the latest batch of the data. The ministry gave it to us and charged 375 euros for providing us with the documents. As usual, we were given scanned PDFs that we converted into excel files.



Then we added up the numbers for 2017 and found that the Hungarian government spent 40.5 million euros on advertising and communicating the results of its two ‘national consultations.’ These were the propaganda campaigns that flooded the streets of Hungary with posters of Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros and told people to ‘stop’ him.

The anti-Soros and anti-migration propaganda campaigns lasted from April until November with only a short summer break.

Third of the money went to Lőrinc Mészáros

The biggest winner of this campaign was Lőrinc Mészáros, mayor of Felcsút, the hometown of PM Orbán. His print and online magazines owned by Mediaworks and in his TV channel (Echo) received 12.8 million euros for publishing and broadcasting the anti-Soros ads.  



Second place goes to András Tombor, close business partner of Árpád Habony (the engimatic spin doctor working for Orbán). Third place goes to Odex, a company that owns outdoor billboards and citylights.

The companies of government film tzar and casino owner Andy Vajna got more than 3.3 million euros, which puts him at the fourth place. No. 5 is Árpád Habony himself whose media outlets, Lokál and got about half of what Vajna got.

A lifeline to media companies tied to the government



The government-funded propaganda campaigns are an important tool of financing the media empire serving the needs and interests of the Orban government. A huge portion of the 40.5 million euros was paid to these media companies for carrying the anti-Soros advertising.

The biggest winner was Mediaworks (owned by Mészáros) with 11.5 million euros. Other media companies that benefitted from the campaign are New Wave Media – owned by the son of central bank chief György Matolcsy. But there was enough money for all other media tied to the government as well: Magyar Idők, Figyelő, Demokrata, Magyar Hírlap and all got money from the propaganda campaign.

Raw data

You can see our table summarizing the cost of the 2017 propaganda campaigns here

You can see the original PDF files we received from the ministry here, here, here, here and here.

Written by Katalin Erdélyi  

You can read the original, Hungarian-language article here.

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