The transparency of government funding of the media is an essential element of the freedom of expression. However, this transparency is weak in the Hungarian media. The Hungarian media relies heavily on government advertisement spending. The public advertising orders can determine the fate of a media company. This dependency can threaten the freedom of the press since the government has the means to influence media content. This report has been prepared to describe the role of state purchases in the advertising incomes of the printed media. We used descriptive statistics to describe the main characteristics of state advertisement purchases and the way it changes over time.
Based on our findings, we can conclude that political changes deeply influenced the advertising market. The spending of state advertisements in Hungary is highly concentrated on a small group of government institutions and firms. The changes in the advertisement incomes of left and right wing leaning printed media follows closely the changes of governments. The advertising incomes of the leftist printed media had dramatically been decreasing from 2008, so that this sum had been reduced to less than one third of 2003 by 2012. The changes in the advertising incomes of the right wing media is similarly radical, but in the opposite direction. The state advertising incomes of the right wing media was more than two times higher in 2012 than in 2010.