Propaganda machine

Data visualization: this is what the pro-government news media looks like

According to our calculations 112 newspapers, online media outlets, outdoor advertising companies, radio and TV stations belong to the media empire serving the Hungarian government. These are the companies that spread the Fidesz party’s messages around the country. How did this media conglomerate emerge and how are they connected? We visualized the network and how it emerged. 

Atlatszo has been closely following and covering the reorganization of the Hungarian media market, including the creation of the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA) last November. We have presented how the creation of the foundation re-shaped the ownership structure of the pro-government media empire.

At the time our calculations revealed that 476 media outlets (weekly and daily newspapers, journals, news outlets, blogs, radio and TV stations, and outdoor advertising companies) were incorporated into the new foundation.

Data visualization: this is how the pro-government media empire owning 476 outlets was formed

This week 476 media outlets became parts of the new Hungarian media holding controlled by pro-government forces. The name of the mammoth is Central European Press and Media Foundation (in Hungarian: Közép-európai Sajtó- és Média Alapítvány). Our infographic shows you what happened! Two important announcements were made on Wednesday.

In the past six months, several of these media titles were shut down and some new outlets were added. Today we only examine those that strictly belong to the news media serving the government. According to our database 112 outlets belong in this category.

By news outlet we mean portals that serve news, comment on news, or in a wider sense have an impact on public discourse. We included the billboard companies as well because the government uses them to spread political messages through them.

How we got here

In our first infographic, we show how these 112 media outlets became centralized in the hands of the government and its loyalists in three stages. It is worth to pay attention to the transition between the first and the second stages.

The first stage shows the media scene five years ago, when every regional newspaper and their online versions, as well as the Origo Group and the TV2 Group,  were owned by foreign media companies (Axel Springer, WAZ, Lapcom, Inform/Russmedia, Pro7Sat1, and the Deutsche Telekom).

And then, between the second and the fourth stages, they all became properties of people closely linked with the government.

One of the main characters in this step was Heinrich Pecina, an Austrian businessman. Pecina was mentioned in the infamous Strache-video as someone who is a potential frontman for media owners who want to stay hidden, and as someone who is already providing such ‘fronting’ services to Viktor Orban.

It was Pecina who helped Lőrinc Mészáros and KESMA acquire Mediaworks, Pannon Lapok Társasága and the Inform/Russmedia – a portfolio that includes the entire regional media in Hungary.

Some of the other important characters are Andy Vajna, who since passed away, Ádám Matolcsy (the central bank chief’s son), Mária Schmidt, and Lajos Simicska, who lost his media portfolio back after he fell out of favor with Orban.

Click on the photo to enlarge it!

In the next diagram, you can see the same process presented in a different format, in concentric circles. The outermost circle represents each media title. Going deeper and deeper towards the center you can see how pro-government media was concentrated into a few hands. The innermost circle shows you the current state of affairs.

The current network of the pro-government media

In this next infographic, you can see the connections between the media titles and their owners and see how they are connected to the government. The size of the circles represent the latest turnover data of the companies. In KESMA’s case, the circle corresponds to the total turnover of all media companies owned by the foundation.

You can highlight certain groups and types of media by clicking on the colors in the legend. Moving your mouse over the infographic, you can learn more about the connections and data.

The legend on the top of the infographic: newspaper; online; publishing house; radio; owner; TV; weekly magazine; billboard/outdoor; holding (KESMA); government.

See the entire project on Atlo’s site HERE.

Written and created by Attila Bátorfy.

English version by Anita Kőműves and Lili Rutai. You can read the original, Hungarian-language article here.