The Hungarian media is controlled by the ruling right wing conservative Fidesz party, through relatively open support for the two most important newspapers. Magyar Hírlap en Magyar Nemzet, but most importantly through public television, of which the management was almost immediately replaced when Fidesz started their second term. However, the most important influence is the infamous 'media law' from 2011, in which a censor may alters news reports when they 'compromise the interests of society, morale or order'. Hungarians are designated to public media, only 25% of the citizens has access to the internet.
They are protesting on the streets again, and I join them, to protest against another dubious law by the government: a proposal to put taxes on internet usage. 150 Forint, about 50 eurocents for every downloaded gigabyte.
'This way an ejaculation may become quite expensive', Sorel jokes while marching, 'an internet movie like that could be a few gigabytes'. Gallows humour: he was a victim of the new government policies straight away. As a critical news journalist he was side lined, then he started a hunger strike in front of the public television office. His strike lasted two weeks. 'Then I had to recover for two months at home.' He still is not fat. 'One of us is still there in a caravan in front of the building'.
A crowd of 10.000 protestors moves on the Andrassy, the Budapest' Champs Elysées, and heads to the Fidesz head office. Every now and then someone chants, sometimes the chant is - presumably something like 'go away' - repeated by neighbours, causing a wave through the crowd. 'It was almost impossible to get to work after this. Now I am a doctor in a soap series, but I recently got written out of the series...'
'Television is a joke when it concerns journalism in Hungary', Sorel states. 'They lie all the time. I exclusively read the online news, via origo.hu and index.hu. While I can. And of course English and French sites - I studied in France'.
The crowd reaches the Fidesz office. On the second floor there is a light on. It seems a computer is turned on. There must be someone surfing the internet.
Writer and journalist Mark Schalekamp travels the EU for his project Youropeans. In every city he interviews a doctor, barber, an immigrant, a prostitute, local celebrity, police officer, businessman and an artist. And he shares his view on the media landscape for Publistat.