Around 1,500 demonstrators gathered at the headquarters of Hungary’s public media company Friday to protest what they say is biased news coverage and state-sponsored propaganda that favors the country’s populist government.
Demonstrators called for the replacement of the director of public media corporation MTVA and for coverage of a recent wave of major protests and strikes by Hungarian teachers and students. The protests demanding better pay and working conditions for educators have been largely ignored by public media despite some drawing tens of thousands of people.
The protest Friday, dubbed a “blockade of the factory of lies,” was called by independent opposition lawmaker Akos Hadhazy, a former member of the ruling Fidesz party who is known as an anti-corruption crusader.
Speaking at the protest, Hadhazy said Hungary’s government had created a “propaganda machine” that has refused to provide opposition voices airtime while openly advocating the policies of the governing party.
“In a normal country, the public media follow very strict rules to ensure that opposition opinions and government party opinions are presented in the same way and in the same quantity,” Hadhazy said. “As long as this propaganda machine is available to the government, it can do virtually anything.”