Online media has gained ground as a source of information on the Hungarian parliamentary elections

Published: 18 May 2018

The voters followed the results of the parliamentary elections mainly on Hungarian TV channel M1, and on the news website Index, as the latest survey of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) suggests. According to the decision of the Media Council, five new TV films can be produced, including two novel adaptations and two historical films, and regular programmes of 22 local and regional radio stations will receive funding for a year. It will be possible to comment on a draft call for tenders on a radio frequency in Kecel, and the Budapest-based small community radio station Kontant Rádió can continue operating under the name Broadway Rádió.

As in the case of three previous parliamentary elections, the Media Council has approved and published the results of the representative survey on the public knowledge about the news, results and party campaigns related to the parliamentary elections, based on data collected by a phone survey conducted on the day following the elections. Public opinion polls commissioned by the Media Council involved 400 people in Budapest and, for the first time this year, an additional 600 people in the countryside.

86 percent of the electorate followed the news on the evening of the elections, and on Monday, the day following the elections, 90 percent of the respondents knew that Fidesz-KDNP had won. At that time, three quarters of respondents correctly mentioned Jobbik as the runner-up, while 58 percent of them was aware that MSZP-Párbeszéd finished third. The bandwagon effect well-known in political science, namely that people tend to associate themselves with the winner, strongly affected the answers: on the day after the elections, 60.3 percent of the respondents said that they had voted for the winner, while Fidesz-KDNP had received 47.4 percent of the votes. 62 percent of respondents discussed the election results with someone; the smaller the town is where they live, the lower their proportion turned out to be. The topic of the election typically came up only within the family circle.

It turned out that television is still dominant in spreading information on the election results, but the internet is gathering strength: 73 percent of the people gained information on the election results on television or radio, but 18 percent of them primarily turned to the internet (22 percent in Budapest). In 2006, according to data from Budapest, television and radio was mentioned by 84 percent as the primary source of information, while the Internet had a mere 5 percent share. 55 percent of the respondents relied on more than one source of information, television and the Internet as well, mentioned by 91 percent and 49 percent of them, respectively.

Among those who chose television as their source of information, the leading position of M1 has eroded, most visibly in the capital – this year 32 percent of viewers opted for M1 nationwide. Budapest voters are increasingly turning to commercial news channels: 21 percent watched the news on ATV, 15 percent on Hír TV, whereas in 2006 the news channels had a mere 9 percent share combined. The two national commercial TV channels performed poorly this year: RTL Klub had 11 percent of the viewers, and TV2 was watched by 8 percent. The online space was dominated by the news site Index; it attracted 37 percent of Internet readers nationwide – with an even higher percentage in the towns –, followed by Facebook with 18 percent, and the website of the National Election Office with 11 percent. Of the news sites, came in second with 8 percent, while Origo was third with 6 percent.

According to the survey, the election campaigns of the parties were heard or seen on TV by only 69 percent of the people living in the capital, while it was 93 percent in 2006, but it still remains the leading form of political advertising in the country. Street advertisements and billboards played a more significant role this year: they finished second, reaching 59 percent of adults; moreover, street advertising proved to be the most effective means for adults under the age of 30, ahead even of TV and the Internet. Looking at society as a whole, the Internet is the third most important means of communication (35 percent), however, it is the first in the 30-49 age group, ahead of radio (29 percent) and printed press (17 percent). The advertisements of Fidesz-KDNP reached the most people: three out of four people remembered that they had seen or heard their advertisement before the elections, whereas every second respondent remembered the advertisements of Jobbik or MSZP-Párbeszéd. However, only 37 percent of respondents were able to recall a specific slogan – a little more in Budapest with 41 percent – while this figure was nearly 79 percent in the capital in 2006.

Five new TV films can be produced with an overall funding of HUF 600 million

The Media Council provides a total of HUF 600 million for five TV films participating in the György Fehér tender for the production of television films. Two of them are adaptations of novels: László Vitézy will adapt Zsigmond Móricz’s novelette Házasságtörés (Adultery), under the same title, which describes the hardships of a low-ranked clerk in post-Trianon Hungary, while Linda Dombrovszky will direct a film based on Magda Szabó’s Pilátus (Pilate), which is the story of an elderly mother and her daughter, who takes care of her financially, but emotionally she is cold and distant. Two historical films will also be made: in the first one, A mayerlingi rejtély (The Mayerling Mystery), director Róbert Pajer will look into the mysterious death of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria; and the other film, A halálügyész (The Death Prosecutor), directed by Tamás Novák, will focus on a significant court case in the period of the post-1956 retaliations, through the true story of a newly graduated prosecutor, Endre Grátz. Bence Miklauzic’s film Nino bárkája (Nino’s Ark) will be set in a contemporary environment, in a restaurant where people with reduced work capacity work together with a crafty but likeable boss. In line with the requirements included in the call for tenders, the films must be completed by 30 June 2019 and will be broadcast by the channels of the public media by the end of next year.

One-year support for twenty-five radio, service and magazine programmes

Under the Hungarian Media Patronage Programme, in the first round of the tender for a year-long support for regular radio programmes this year, the Board awarded a total of HUF 73.9 million for the production of 25 news, service or thematic programmes by 22 local or regional radio channels. The commercial radios supported include Kunság Rádió in Kiskőrös, Rádió Som in Fehérgyarmat, two programmes of Rádió Most Kaposvár, Rádió M in Miskolc, FM7 Rádió in Gyöngyös, Tamási Rádió and the Budapest-based Rádió 1 with three frequencies in Zalaegerszeg, Pécs and Békéscsaba. Among the community radios, the Board provides funding to the Miskolc-based Csillagpont Rádió and Európa Rádió, with two tenders for the latter’s Sátoraljaújhely and Debrecen frequencies, Radio Monoster in Szentgotthárd, the Budapest-based Mária Rádió for two programmes, Magyar Katolikus Rádió, InfoRádió, Klubrádió and Trend FM also for two programmes. Among the small community stations, Rádió Törökszentmiklós, Mustár Rádió in Nyíregyháza, Alpha Rádió in Székesfehérvár and the Szombathely-based Credo Rádió will receive funding.

Decisions related to radio broadcasting licences

The Media Council has approved and published on its website the call for tenders for the Kecel 99.6 MHz local commercial radio frequency, as the licence of Gong Rádió Kft., having used the frequency for 12 years, will expire in a few months. The Board has approved the name change of the small community station Kontakt Rádió to Broadway Rádió, continuing its service at the Budapest 87.6 MHz frequency, in the vicinity of District VI, Terézváros. The Council has also acknowledged and will document in the official contracts the notification required by the Media Act concerning the changes of the company data of the media service provider Sirius Rádió in Kiskunmajsa and Kiskunfélegyháza, according to which the sole new owner of Félegyházi Hírlap Kft. is Radio Plus Kft.