East European govts spend big on ads to muzzle free press

New weapon in their propaganda arsenal targets foreign media firms

In the last five years under Prime Minister Viktor Orban's rule, the role of the state as an advertiser has skyrocketed.
In the last five years under Prime Minister Viktor Orban's rule, the role of the state as an advertiser has skyrocketed. PHOTO: REUTERS

When the Berlin Wall fell almost 30 years ago, it was, above all, because the privately owned media outlets had pushed for political change in Central and Eastern Europe.

The charge was led by both the newly established newspapers, which were run by the opposition pushing for democracy, as well as traditional media outlets that realised the time for the communist regimes was at an end.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2019, with the headline 'East European govts spend big on ads to muzzle free press'. Subscribe