Government-critical news site Átlátszó has received data on the 2021 media correction lawsuits from the Metropolitan Court of Budapest. According to the rulings of the court, last year a total of 54 such lawsuits were lost by the largest pro-government media outlets, ten times more than the number lost by publications critical to the government. The record-holder is the pro-Fidesz newspaper Magyar Nemzet, with 20 correction lawsuits lost, followed by pro-govt news site Origo with 13.
Átlátszó requested data on the lost lawsuits for correction of a total of nine pro-government media outlets: public service media (MTVA), newspaper Magyar Nemzet, news portal PestiSrácok.hu, news site Origo.hu, news site 888.hu, news TV channel HírTV, commercial TV channel TV2 and tabloids Ripost and Lokál (the latter newspaper was renamed Metropol in 2020, but Átlátszó thought it might have ongoing lawsuits in 2021 from previous years).
Magyar Nemzet lost most of the proceedings, 20 in total. Origo was second with 13 lost cases, followed by Ripost and PestiSrácok in third place, both having 6 condemnations. Public service media (MTVA), TV2 and HírTV also lost 3 cases each.
It is important to note, however, that the report only covers the verdict of court trials at the Metropolitan Court of Budapest, so it does not include, for example, the numerous county newspapers operating under the aegis of the KESMA.
FactMost pro-government outlets on Átlátszó’s list are owned by the Central European Press and Media Foundation (KESMA), including Magyar Nemzet, Origo.hu, 888.hu, HírTV, Lokál, and Ripost. The establishment of the KESMA concluded in 2018 after the owners of a vast majority of Hungary’s pro-government media outlets announced they would donate their companies to the foundation, thus creating a huge right-wing media conglomerate. As a result, this conglomerate is by far the most powerful on the Hungarian media market.
Átlátszó has also requested data for publications independent of the government.
Based on the data obtained by the news site, government critical news portal 444.hu lost 2 cases, while government critical Telex.hu, 24.hu and commercial broadcaster RTL Klub lost 1 each. Meanwhile, news sites Magyar Hang, HVG and Átlátszó did not lose any proceedings in 2021.
Hence, the court ruled against media outlets independent of the government a total of 5 times at the Metropolitan Court of Budapest last year, a significantly lower number compared to the 54 rulings against pro-government media.
Átlátszó has been tracking the number of lawsuits for correction for years: in 2017, pro-government media lost 53 cases, in 2018, 109, in 2019, 74 and in 2020, 57. From 2017 until now Origo had lost the most cases in court.
Magyar Hang journalist Balázs Gulyás recently shared an aggregated data set of lawsuits for correction lost by major media outlets from 2017 onwards. Looking at the multi-year aggregate, Origo is still in the lead.
Featured photo illustration via pixabay.com