Index, Hungary's first news site, next victim of media outcry?

Businessmen close to Prime Minister Viktor Orban (our photo) have entered the capital of REUTERS / Bernadett Szabo

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In ten years, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the public media to his boot and has been bought by relatives of many private media. His next victim may well be the Index website. Independent and critical, it is the first information portal in Hungary behind Google, Yahoo and YouTube.


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“  The independence of Index is in danger.  This message signed by the journalists of the first website of Hungary sounds like a cry of alarm, tells our correspondent in Budapest , Florence La Bruyère . Its editorial independence is well guaranteed on paper, but in practice businessmen close to Prime Minister Viktor Orban have entered the capital of the company.

Since returning to power ten years ago, the Nationalist Prime Minister has put the public media at his heels. Following in the footsteps of Vladimir Putin, he also had his friends buy out many private media: televisions, radios and newspapers. In total, almost 500 media outlets that disseminate partisan information or misinform.

A well-followed information site

Does the ruling party want to get hold of one of the last independent media outlets? For Judit Windisch, journalist for the economic weekly HVG, Index has enough to arouse lust.  Index is the online newspaper with the highest audience. During the Covid crisis, they had up to 1.7 million visitors! It is an exceptional result.  "

Viktor Orban's strategy is not new. For years, his oligarch friends have bought independent newspapers to make propaganda machines, says journalist Attila Mong. “  These media (bought by the authorities) play an important role in trolling. They are trying to demolish the independent media, drag them through the mud. They are trying to show that they are only political activists  , ”he comments.

Serious violation  ” of EU values

According to the OSCE, the "  unbalanced  " media landscape and " restricted  " access  to information helped Viktor Orban win a third consecutive mandate in 2018 as head of government. The decline of independent journalism in Hungary has led the European Union to launch an exceptional procedure against Hungary for the risk of a “  serious violation  ” of the values ​​of the European Union (Article 7 procedure, launched at the end of 2018).

Index journalists , who prefer not to speak on the microphone, said there was a plan to restructure the newspaper in the drawers - one that would threaten editorial independence. According to several commentators, the Hungarian media landscape is getting closer and closer to the Russian model.

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  • Hungary
  • Viktor Orban
  • Media
  • Freedom of press

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