Propaganda machine

The government of Hungary spent €216 million on propaganda and fearmongering in the past 8 years

The Hungarian government spent 69.3 billion Hungarian forints (approximately €216 million at today’s exchange rate) on propaganda and fearmongering in the past eight years. Our infographics also reveal that taxpayer money spent on spreading these messages is growing every year. Also, the companies that do the work and receive all this money (media outlets, outdoor advertising companies) are all owned by businessmen close to the government – except for one.

When Viktor Orban’s Fidesz was in opposition before the 2010 election, the party often complained that the government led by Ferenc Gyurcsány was spending too much on communication campaigns. When Fidesz was elected in 2010, it promised that the party would spend much less on campaigning while in power.

This was true for a while. They spent less and they were transparent about their spending on communications. Until about 2014 the Fidesz government answered journalists and opposition politicians when they asked them about such spending.

Atlatszo has been tracking taxpayer money spent on propaganda for years. We regularly file freedom of information requests and ask to see the list of the latest contracts signed with media outlets and advertising agencies.

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.

We are often asked for money in return for the data and we are often given documents that are practically impossible to read. This is exactly what happened the last time we requested such data: the ministry led by Antal Rogán sent us a bunch of PDF documents that were unreadable – even though we paid them for sending us a copy.

We summarized in our infographic how much the government spent on communication about its own results and on ’information’ campaigns. The latter include the anti-immigration, anti-Soros, anti-Brussels and anti-anything campaigns.

That is, this is not all the taxpayer money spent on advertising – only the money spent on propaganda.

According to the data compiled by Kantar Media, the list price for all the money spent on propaganda between May 2010 and September 2018 was 69.3 billion Hungarian forints – that is, is €216 million at today’s exchange rate.

The data clearly show that the Orban government is spending more and more taxpayer money on advertising itself and spreading its views. The companies where money is spent have changed: all of the media and advertising companies where money is spent are owned by businessmen close to Orban. The only exception is the French outdoor advertising company JCDecaux.

If you are interested in all the money that the Hungarian state and state-owned companies spend on advertising, check out Atlatszo’s and Mertek Media Monitor’s webpage about state advertising.

Written by Attila Bátorfy

You can read the original, Hungarian language article here.