Hungary: A Country on the Path Toward an Authoritarian Media System
The erosion of the freedom of press in Hungary is a constantly and well-documented fact, accessible to foreign visitors. Political science has competing theories for a systemic understanding of the Hungarian political establishment, but theoretical approaches to the characteristics of the Hungarian media landscape are sporadic and incomplete. In this paper, based on a description of the properties of the Hungarian media system, which has been arbitrarily transformed by the Orbán governments in power since 2010 through administrative-regulatory, state funding and communication tools, I attempt to situate it between classical and recent media system theories and thus complement the observations made so far with some new ones. I will point out that Orbán’s authoritarian ideas about the media have been clear at least since his first government and argue that although the Hungarian media system, despite its mixed features, does not fit into any media system theory, this is only because these theories draw the contours of the dynamically changing media spaces after the fact. Recognising this, I believe, can help us to identify archetypes of media systems when examining the relationship between power and media. I will do this through an illustration of the tools and their effects used for authoritarian media transformation and will argue that the Hungarian media system, among the categories established by Siebert, Peterson and Schramm, is similar in its dynamics to the authoritarian and the Soviet-communist media systems.
Médiakutató Autumn-Winter 2022 pp. 49-58