The 2019 Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford examines trust in the media, concern over misinformation, news avoidance and how people access news, among other news-related topics. This year's report surveyed 75,000 people in 38 countries and included individual profiles on those countries.
“Government allies strengthened their grip on the media market last year through acquisitions and mergers, distribution of state advertising and subsidies, control over public service media, and smear campaigns against critical journalists,” writes Eva Bognar, senior program officer and researcher at Central European University’s Center for Media, Data and Society, in the report’s profile on digital news media in Hungary.
Among these changes in the Hungarian media landscape, the most significant was the formation of the Central European Press and Media Foundation, according to Bognar. The foundation merged 476 media companies, including a top online news portal and all daily regional papers, offered to CEPMF by some of the country’s pro-government media owners.
This consolidation of outlets and increased government influence over the media market has already had a serious impact. “Investigations into the wrongdoings of oligarchs and politicians are conducted by independent journalism outlets, but are rarely followed up by police investigations or covered by pro-government media including the public service broadcaster,” writes Bognar. “Because of the structure and nature of the Hungarian media environment, significant segments of the audience are systematically underserved with critical information, while the reach and breadth of pro-government outlets is extensive.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly in this environment, Hungary has one of the lowest levels of trust in the entire survey (28%), though trust in sources that people themselves use is higher (54%). According to survey results, RTL Klub is the most trusted media brand in Hungary, pro-government TV2 is the least trusted brand and social media networks remain a key source of news.