Why the Polish Elections Cannot Be Repeated in Orbán's Hungary:

In the 2022 campaign, the opposition candidate for prime minister got a total of only five minutes (!) of airtime on state television.

Is this true? (BTW, that article also claims that "Orbán is both an autocrat and a criminal", which does give me the impression they might be making biased claims.)

2 Answers 2


The Guardian corroborates the claim.

On Hungary’s national day last month Viktor Orbán accused the opposition of seeking to drag the country into Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The Hungarian prime minister’s highly questionable claim was the centrepiece of a 30-minute speech to supporters that was broadcast on the state TV channel M1 nine times in 24 hours. For Orbán, it was perfect coverage, as he seeks a fourth straight term in the country’s most closely fought election in years, on 3 April. The main opposition leader, Péter Márki-Zay, has also been on state TV: he got five minutes.

...it was hard to find coverage of this week’s press conference by Márki-Zay at a Habsburg estate reportedly owned by the prime minister’s father, Gyözö Orbán. Márki-Záy hammered away at one of his main themes: corruption. Pro-government news sites, such as Origo and Magyar Nemzet, did not mention the speech, nor did Hungary’s main news agency, MTI. The last-discovered reference the agency made to the Hatvanpuszta estate, alleged to have been subject to a lavish renovation, was more than 20 years ago.

The article goes on to describe Hungary's waning independent media.

....the erosion of Hungary’s independent media has been unfolding since Orbán was elected again in 2010. His victory was soon followed by a media law that asserted government control over the main media regulator. In later years, independent newspapers and websites went bankrupt or were taken over by government-friendly buyers, squeezed, in part, by state advertising heavily tilted towards pro-government outlets.


The opposition candidate for Prime Minister of Hungary (in the most recent election held on 3 April 2022) was Péter Márki-Zay. He stated that opposition politicians are entitled to only five minutes of airtime on Hungarian public television. Via an interview with Márki-Zay, Meet the conservative who could unseat Viktor Orbán, published 14 January 2022 on website openDemocracy:

“Opposition politicians cannot get any airtime on public television paid for by our taxpayers’ money,” Márki-Zay says. “In the four-year cycle, an entire opposition party can only get five minutes airtime on public television...

This was confirmed by Euronews on 29 March 2022, Claims of media bias...:

When Hungarian state TV was obliged by electoral law to give airtime to opposition candidate Péter Márki-Zay - it ran an interview early in the morning that lasted just five minutes.

In the following passage from the same openDemocracy article, note the reference to televised debates ahead of the opposition primary to select the prime ministerial candidate:

...the international press anointed Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony in the autumn, dark horse Péter Márki-Zay was making a splash in televised debates ahead of an unprecedented opposition primary to select its prime ministerial candidate. Karácsony, a political pollster by trade, saw the writing on the wall. Stepping aside, he cleared the way for a Márki-Zay victory...

If televised debates are allowed, then television broadcasts featuring opposition candidates are clearly possible, although the premise of the question remains correct: Air time on Hungarian PUBLIC television MDTV is limited to five minutes for the opposition parties. See too: After Four Years of Neglect, State Media Gives Five Minutes to Each Opposition Party before Election via Hungary Today in English (and in German).

Drawing from Hungarian and non-Hungarian sources, the answer is yes, the opposition candidate for prime minister in 2022 only received five minutes of public television airtime.

  • 1
    I'm awarding you the bounty for the slightly more cross-checked answer, but I'll tick the accept mark (which doesn't affect answer ordering here IIRC) on the other one for adding some detail/contrast with how much coverage Orban himself got in the same venue(s). Commented Feb 28 at 16:53

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