Hungarian government is about to spend another €31 million on propaganda
In the middle of April, the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister signed a framework contract worth HUF 10 billion (approximately 31 million euros at today’s exchange rate) with the advertising companies owned by Gyula Balásy to implement a campaign dealing with ‘government decisions that have a major impact on citizens’ lives’. The contract expires at the end of the year or when the money runs out, but HUF 7 billion (21.8 million euros) will surely be spent.
On April 11, 2019, the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister (the department that manages government advertising campaigns) signed a contract worth 10 billion HUF with Lounge Design Ltd. and New Land Media Ltd. for communication tasks.
The agreement is open until the budget is exhausted or 31 December 2019 at the latest. The document reveals that 3 billion of the amount is only an option, but net 7 billion will certainly be spent on one to ten campaigns.
The justification is the same this time as in the previous propaganda campaigns: the money is for government communication tasks affecting the future of Europe and information on government decisions that are crucial to citizens’ lives.
In recent months the latter meant anti-EU campaigns, including the infamous billboard campaign featuring the faces of Jean-Claude Juncker and George Soros.
The government of Hungary spent 15.4 billion Hungarian forints (approximately 48 million euros at today’s exchange rate) on spreading its messages in the first three months of this year.
In the technical specifications for the contract, the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office writes on behalf of the Hungarian Government: ‘We consider it a fundamental public interest and a democratic duty that Hungarian citizens receive as up-to-date and detailed information on these measures as possible.’
The contract was sent to Átlátszó by László Ferjancsics, the local representative of the Local Patriots for the Town of Vác (Vácért Lokálpatrióta Egyesület of Vác). He received the document after he filed a freedom of information request with Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister.
This is the second such contract coming to light this year, as in the middle of January the Cabinet Office had already commissioned the two companies of Gyula Balásy, which have been the government’s sole advertising suppliers for a long time, for a net worth of HUF 10 billion (regarding communication affecting the future of Europe and information on government decisions that are crucial to citizens’ lives).
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.
Written by Katalin Erdélyi
English version by Péter László. You can read the original, Hungarian-language story here.
Cover image: Szebáld Szakál / Átlátszó