In Hungary the media served as instruments of regime
so their primary task was to promote the party's policies.
Although other organizations, such as the PPF, the
Youth League, and the trade unions, produced their own
publications, the regime controlled their content
(see Mass Organizations
, ch. 2). In the 1980s, the regime continued
suppress other sources of information, although it made
in hotels some Western periodicals and newspapers. The
banned private ownership of the media.
In the late 1980s, Hungary had no censorship laws.
informal censorship occurred in a number of different
the party and the government had organs for censorship.
set guidelines, which were transmitted from its Department
Agitation and Propaganda to the lower party organs and to
editors in chief of the media. The Council of Ministers'
Information Bureau acted as the government's agency for
(see Council of Ministers
, this ch.). The
Telegraph Agency (Magyar Tavirati Iroda--MTI) was the
source of information for the media. Because the news
lacked other sources of information, they depended on MTI
materials. MTI could thus exercise centralized control
kinds of information that appeared in print or over the
The regime carefully selected editors and informed them
party and government censorship standards. Editors could
for failure to comply with these standards. For example,
Ferenc Kulin, editor of Mozgo Vilag (World In
lost his position for "systematic defiance" of party
Editors often exercised informal censorship, rejecting an
article, for instance, because they claimed it did not
profile of their publication. Editors also exercised
when they recommended changes to a work that removed or
its politically sensitive parts. Paradoxically, the lack
censorship standards encouraged editors to take a
approach to censorship to ensure that their publications
include materials that might offend anyone in authority.
On March 20, 1986, the National Assembly passed a new
law defining the "rights and duties of journalists and the
of the public to fast and timely information." The law
government officials to respond to requests for
reporters. Journalists, however, had to submit a copy of
article to people they had interviewed for it. The law
the publication of materials that "would hurt the
order of the People's Republic and its international
. . and public morals." Critical pieces of writing could
rejected on that basis. In addition, according to
member and Central Committee secretary Berecz, the law
questioning Hungary's "socialist achievements" and its
historical and moral values."
Hungary had three major daily newspapers:
(People's Freedom), the official organ of the HSWP;
Nepszava (People's Voice), the organ of the trade
and Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation), the organ of
and the most liberal of the three newspapers.
was the party daily and had a circulation of approximately
467,000 in early 1989. In November 1988, a new daily--A
Nap (The Sun)--began publication with a circulation of
between 80,000 and 100,000 a day. An afternoon
Hirlap (Evening News)--had a circulation of between
and 250,000 a day.
The regime also published a number of specialized
Tarsadalmi Szemle (Social Review) was the HSWP's
ideological monthly; it had a circulation of approximately
41,000. Partelet (Party Life) had a circulation of
130,000. Other, more obscure journals contained more
subject matter by virtue of their lower circulation and
specialized audiences. Valosag (Reality) was
intellectually the most stimulating journal because it
politically sensitive and highly unorthodox topics.
Most provincial journals treated only topics of
interest. Nevertheless, Jelenkor (Present Age),
in Pecs, and Forras (Source), published in
wider audiences because they included interviews with
literary figures and scholarly research from Budapest.
Tiszataj (Tisza Country), published in Szeged,
wide readership because it published materials on
national minorities living outside the country. However,
the government banned Tiszataj because of
policy mistakes." The editors were dismissed and subjected
party discipline. The publication reappeared in 1987, and
party rehabilitated the editors in early 1989.
In the late 1980s, television was the most popular form
entertainment. Approximately 95 percent of Hungarian
had a television set. In the early and mid-1980s,
watched an average of 140 minutes of television programs
Programming on the country's two channels ran from
to late at night. In addition, some hotels and local cable
aerial systems had the equipment to receive and transmit
Westernrelayed satellite programs. Near the country's western
households with a good roof antenna could receive one
two Yugoslav, and two Czechoslovak channels.
Hungary's three radio stations broadcast a variety of
programming. In addition, Hungary concluded a radio
with Austria to establish a joint German-language radio
called Radio Danubius. In May 1986, the station began
broadcasting a twelve-hour program. The station eventually
attain economic self-sufficiency through advertising.
In the late 1980s, videocassette recorders (VCRs)
popular in Hungary. At the end of 1987, VCRs numbered
200,000 and 300,000, and an estimated 1 million people had
to a VCR. In 1984 Hungary became the first East European
to have stores renting videotapes, and more than fifty
outlets existed in late 1987. The government-operated
however, had only 800 titles and a total of only 15,000
Illegally produced, copied, and distributed cassettes
for 80 percent of the videotape market. These tapes
themes such as religion, anti-Soviet sentiments, sex, and
violence. The regime acknowledged that these tapes had
throughout the country like a "contagious disease" and
responsible for the rise in the crime rate, increased drug
and the higher suicide rate
, ch. 2).
Data as of September 1989