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Population: 9.6 million
Internet penetration: 89%
17th June 2024

After a turbulent 2022, this has been a much calmer year in the Hungarian media market. Political pressure on independent media, however, continued to grow, culminating in new regulation ‘to defend Hungary’s sovereignty’, which may have a severe impact on media freedom.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won his fourth successive term in 2022 following a media capture process, increasing his and his allies’ direct influence over the media, through ownership and legal, regulatory, and economic pressures. Some independent media remain, but recent measures may mean they face a tougher environment.

Of the two major national commercial television channels, government-aligned TV2 dominated over independent RTL in the ratings, although our online survey, which is likely to be drawn more from urban areas, found that RTL was used by more people as a news source than TV2 (36% and 23%, respectively). Most Hungarians continued to consume content on linear television channels, but industry research suggests the use of subscription-based streaming services among internet users aged 18–59 increased significantly from the previous year (from 51% to 59%).1

While the market was relatively stable in 2023, some independent newsrooms experienced internal tension with several key journalists and editors quitting and completed the process to become employee-owned, a unique model in Hungary, seen by the staff as the best way to guarantee the portal’s independence. In another important development, independent local news portals countrywide joined forces to cover topics of interest for larger regions together, trying to offer some alternative news sources in the countryside, which is generally dominated by pro-government media.

As for the advertising market, spending in real terms was still below the pre-COVID-19 level. While digital giants have had the largest share of the Hungarian advertising market since 2019, their share in 2023 increased only minimally from the previous year (34.3% in 2023, from 34.0% in 2022).2 Advertising on digital platforms is not only important for businesses but also plays an important role in Hungarian politics. found that in 2019–23, €26.5m was spent on political ads on Facebook, which is the third highest per capita spending on such ads in the EU. A significant proportion of this spending came from a range of pro-government influencers.3

Our survey found no significant change in the news sources with the greatest weekly reach. RTL, TV2, and ATV still lead the list of legacy media outlets, while,,, and are the most widely used online news portals. Independent overtook pro-government, but a drop was registered for nearly all media outlets. Similarly with brand trust scores, the share of respondents saying they distrusted a particular brand increased for all of those listed. Half (50%) distrust the public service broadcaster.

In 2023 the authorities started implementation in earnest of the controversial 2021 ‘child protection act’, which prohibits the ‘promotion’ and portrayal of homosexuality and gender-nonconformity to minors. Bookstores were fined for selling young adult literature with LGBTQAI+ characters. In October, the World Press Photo exhibition in the National Museum was closed to minors because it included some photos of the LGBTQAI+ community. Hungary’s media authority ruled that RTL could only run an animated video promoting the Budapest Pride Festival between 10 pm and 5 am, and an investigation was also launched into a promotional video on YouTube for Hungary’s popular Sziget Festival, because it included a brief shot of a same-sex couple kissing.

In December, after years of smear campaigns accusing independent media outlets that receive foreign funding of serving foreign interests, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a law ‘to defend Hungary’s sovereignty’. The ideological foundations for the law regarding the media were spelt out by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s political director Balázs Orbán, who told a conference in January, ‘Whoever controls a country’s media controls that country’s mindset and through that the country itself.’ While the law does not explicitly regulate the media, critics claim it may severely restrict media freedom in Hungary. It establishes a new authority that will have very broad investigatory powers, that cannot be overruled by a court, to collect information, including documents and records from other authorities, about practically any organisation or individual involved in public life it suspects of undermining Hungary’s national sovereignty. International media freedom organisations warned that, while the new authority will have no power to impose legal sanctions, it will easily be able to harass and stigmatise media outlets and journalists.4

Judit Szakács and Éva Bognár
CEU Democracy Institute

Changing media

For the first time, less than half of the respondents (44%) named television as a weekly news source, with online and social media news also declining substantially. Weekly reach of printed newspapers is amongst the lowest in our survey.

Methodology note: We introduced education quotas in 2023 to make data more representative of national populations. Part of the declines in reach in the sources chart between 2022 and 2023 will be because there are more people with lower levels of education in our sample now, who typically have lower interest in news.

Pay for online news



Trust in news overall



With pro-government media spreading propaganda on the one hand, and independent media stigmatised as serving foreign interests on the other, overall trust in news continued to decrease, with Hungary now ranking the lowest in the survey, along with Greece. While TV2 led industry viewing charts on most days in 2023, over half of respondents to our survey said they did not trust it.

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 62.98

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at

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1 See report

2 See report.

3 Telex.

4 See report

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