Publicus Institute, by the commission of Népszava, measured voters’ opinion on the freedom of Hungarian press, and the situation concerning the news portal “Index”, by surveying 1017 individuals in a representative survey between the 11-14th of August.

Fidesz has the dominant influence on Hungarian media today, according to three quarters of the surveyed. Most responders also think that the Hungarian press is not independent from the government today.

On a scale of 5, Hungarian freedom of the press was rated 2,9. It is mostly MSZP-P, DK and Momentum voters who do not view the press as free, the average of their estimates on this scale is 1,5.

Despite all of this, 90 percent of responders consider the press’s freedom and independence from government important factors. During our survey in the November of 2016, this ratio was 87 percent.

Two-thirds of surveyed get their information on political and public matters from television. Hence, it is not surprising that only two out of ten responders would be willing to regularly pay for an online newspaper, as 8 out of 10 would choose not to.

Within those who would not pay for an online newspaper, 6 out of 10 chooses so because they believe that it is not necessary, as they can find the information elsewhere too. Two out of ten say that they cannot pay for such an online subscription due to financial reasons.

Seven out of ten responders have heard about the resignation of basically all the editorial staff of Index, the online news portal. Every second surveyed thinks that this fate of Index was actually brought on by Fidesz, who aimed assert their influence on the paper by removing their editor in chief.

Every second responder will read Index same as before, despite all that has happened. Every fifth responder, however, chooses not read Index at all from now on. The latter decision was shared amongst third of DK’s, a quarter of MSZP-P’s and Momentum’s, and even a quarter of Fidesz’s voters.

(Ezen kutatás magyar nyelven itt olvasható)


According to three quarters of responders (75 percent), Fidesz has the dominant influence on Hungarian media today.  Every tenth responder (10 percent) thinks that no political side has a majority of influence on the media, which according to them, operates in a well-balanced manner. 6 percent of surveyed think that there is a majority of left-wing media.

 While the clear majority (96 percent) of opposition voters thinks that Fidesz has the dominant influence on Hungarian media today, one fifth of Fidesz voters (19 percent) think that no political side has a dominant influence, while almost every eighth of them thinks that it’s actually the political left wing which influences media.

During our survey in 2016, two thirds of responders thought that Fidesz has the dominant influence on Hungarian media, while every sixth (16 percent) voter said that the Hungarian media operates in a well-balanced manner.

The majority of responders think that the press is not independent from the government in Hungary today. On a scale of 5, Hungarian freedom of the press was rated 2,9. It is mostly MSZP-P, DK and Momentum voters who don’t view the press as free, the average their estimates on this scale is 1,5. Out of all surveyed demographics, it is only voters of Fidesz who think that the freedom of press is intact, their estimate on this scale is 4,1.

In our survey in the October of 2016, freedom of the Hungarian press got a score of 2,7 on the same scale of five. The improved score of 2,9 today can be explained by the shift of opinion among Fidesz voters, who now view the press as freer and more independent than it was four years ago.

Despite all of this, nine out of ten (90 percent) responders consider the press’s freedom and independence from government important factors. During our survey in the November of 2016, this ratio was 87 percent. (All surveyed demographics agree on this)

Two-thirds (65 percent) of surveyed get their information on political and public matters from television. Four out of ten (38 percent) responders visit online newspapers and two and two out of ten ( 18 and 17 percent) listen to the radio and read a newspaper to inform themselves, while a tenth (10 percent) of them use social media for this.

Hence, it is not surprising that only two out of ten (19 percent) responders would be willing to regularly pay for an online newspaper, as 8 out of 10 (77 percent) would choose not to. It is mostly Momentum and DK voters (48 and 42 percent) who would be willing to subscribe to an online newspaper, while Fidesz voters are those who would be the least willing to (9 percent).

Among responders who already are or would be willing to pay for such a subscription, the monthly amount they would be willing to spend is for three out of ten of them (27 percent) less than a thousand forints, for five out of ten (52 percent) one or two thousand forints, and for a tenth of them (13 percent) two to five thousand forints. Only 3 percent would be willing to pay a monthly five-ten thousand forints, while only 1 would a above ten thousand.

Within those who would not be willing to pay for an online newspaper, 6 out of 10 (56 percent) chooses so because they believe that it is not necessary, as they can easily find the information elsewhere, while two out of ten (20 percent) says that they cannot pay for such an online subscription due to financial reasons. Six percent of responders say that they would not pay for an online subscription because they are used to it being free.

Seven out of ten (71 percent) responders have heard about resignation of basically all editorial staff of the online news portal Index. Almost all voters of MSZP-P, Momentum and DK, and 63 percent of Fidesz voters are aware of this.

Every second surveyed thinks that the fate of Index was actually brought on by Fidesz, who aimed to assert their influence on the paper by removing their editor in chief.

Every seventh (14 percent) responders believes that there had merely been a series of misunderstandings between the editorial team and the board of Index, which resulted in them not being able to continue working together. Likewise every seventh responder (14 percent) believes that the editor in chief provoked being fired while colluding with left-wing politicians, while fully being aware that it would lead to the collapse of the editorial staff.

Eight out of ten opposition voters agree that the faith of index was brought on by Fidesz, while most Fidesz voters (37 percent) believe that it was caused by the editor in chief,  who provoked being fired while colluding with left wing politicians.

Every second responder (53 percent) will read Index same as before, despite all that has happened Every fifth (20 percent), however, chooses not read Index at all from now on, and every seventh (14 percent)  will still read it, but not as frequently as before.

Third (33 percent) of DK voters and almost a quarter (28 and 24 percent) of MSZP-P and Momentum voters, and even a quarter (25 percent) of Fidesz voters say that they will not read Index from now on.

Further details and findings of the study can be found in the printed and online issue of Népszava. Please reference Népszava as well when presenting the study.

Methodology

The survey-based study was run by Publicus Institute as a part of Publicus Omnibusz, consulting 1017 individuals representative of the adult population of Hungary on the phone, between the 11-14th of August 2020. The potential distortions of sampling were corrected with weighting based on the data from the 2016 KSH census. The attributes of the surveyed, their sex, age, educational attainment, regional and settlement wise composition accurately resemble those of the Hungarian population. With this sample size, we can state with a 95 percent confidence level that the data attained through testing would only differ by +/-3,1 percent at most from that we would have gotten when surveying all 18 year old or older residents. The statistical error is larger however, when the distribution is configured not to all surveyed, but to the smaller subgroups present.