Hungary: Prime Minister’s Allies Take Over Popular News Website

26 September 2018
 
Hungarian businessman Zoltan Speder sold in mid-September 2018 his stake in the company cemp-X Online, which owns several publications and indirectly controls Index.hu, Hungary’s largest independent news website.
 
Mr Speder, who two years ago had a spat with Hungary’s autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said that his stake was bought by Gabor Ziegler, a board member at cemp-x Online, and the entrepreneur Jozsef Oltyan (pictured). Each of them now holds half of the company.
 
The move is seen as yet another blow to independent media in Hungary by oligarchs close to Mr Orban. Mr Oltyan said that Index’s independence will not be affected by the ownership change. However, local observers say that this is unlikely given Mr Oltyan’s membership in a party ruling Hungary in coalition with Fidesz, Mr Orban’s party. The Independent newspaper in the U.K. cited staff at Index.hu warning of a “doomsday scenario.”
 
Mr Orban’s rightwing nationalist party was re-elected last April for a third consecutive term at the helm of the Hungarian government. Mr Orban described Index.hu as a fake news website.
 
Gabor Polyak, an analyst at media think-tank Mertek, told Reuters that the cemp group has a strong influence on the business operations of Index.hu as they manage the website’s advertising sales.
 

Index.hu is known for its investigations into the Mr Orban’s wrongdoing. With Index.hu under its wing, Hungarian media is almost entirely in the hands of the oligarchs bankrolling Mr Orban. One major news outlet still outside Mr Orban’s sphere of influence is RTL Klub, a popular TV channel owned by Germany’s broadcast group Bertelsmann. Journalists in Hungary, however, speak about plans of the Hungarian government and its oligarchs to force Bertelsmann in the coming months to sell its operation in Hungary.

Photo: Twitter


 
More from Local Reporter
 
Czech Republic
25 September 2018
The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting (RRTV), the broadcast regulator in the Czech Republic, asked the owners of TV Barrandov to explain why they stopped broadcasting news as of 22 September 2018, the local website MediaGuru reported.
 

Galicia

16 September 2018
The staff of CRTVG, the public broadcaster in Galicia, an autonomous community in northwestern Spain, took to the streets to call on the government to stop meddling in the station’s affairs, wrote the Spanish daily El Pais. The journalists were supported by the staff of RTVE, Spain’s nationwide public broadcaster.
 
Romania
8 September 2018
The Romanian media loves so much the tabloid fare that nothing is considered too much to be broadcast. Journalists are game to air anything, even shows catering to the most lugubrious tastes, as long as such content attracts eyeballs.