Conservative weekly discontinued in Hungary
The conservative weekly paper Heti Válasz has discontinued its printed edition on the grounds that it is facing bankruptcy. The paper belonged to the press empire of oligarch Lajos Simicska, who has financed independent conservative media since he fell out with his long-time friend and ally Prime Minister Orbán. Do independent, critical media voices still have a future in Hungary?
The 'invisible hand' calls the shots
In Hungary, a newspaper risks losing all its advertising revenues if it antagonises Orbán, the opposition daily Népszava explains:
“Because then not just the newspaper's biggest advertising client - the Hungarian state - stops buying advertising space. Profit-oriented private companies, which tend to be sensitive to political signals, also withdraw their ads. ... And if a media outlet with a promising circulation but an anti-government stance finds a potential buyer, it is made clear to that buyer that it will run a major risk by getting in the government's way. ... The 'invisible hand' means something very different here than in a true market economy. It's not an abstract term but a real person who is increasingly unwilling to accept not being allowed to dictate what a newspaper says.”
Last independent voice on the right falls silent
With the end of Heti Válasz Hungary says goodbye to a worthy opponent for the left, comments the left-liberal news website Kettős mérce:
“The conservative milieus that wanted a righteous, upstanding democracy in Hungary had a voice they could turn to for intellectual ammunition. These tens of thousands - or hundreds of thousands - of Hungarian citizens had an intellectual home base. And this base was incredibly important. Not just for the conservatives, but also for the leftists, greens and liberals. Thanks to this base the other side had not just propaganda, but also ideas. Ideas that could be discussed, and that brought things forward. With the end of Heti Válasz all that is over now.”