Although many say that opposition press has ceased to exist in Hungary, one of the largest opposition media moguls has added tens of billions to his assets in the past ten years. Compared to 2010, his wealth has grown sevenfold, the V4 news agency reported.
The Brussels news outlet Politico interviewed Zoltan Varga, a Hungarian media entrepreneur and the owner of a press holding called Central Media Group. Left-liberal news outlet 24.hu is also part of this group. Varga complained to Politico that pro-government Hungarian media outlets have launched an orchestrated campaign to discredit him and his company. According to Politico’s article, Varga’s Central Media Group reaches 7.5 million people every month, including about 5 million online.
According to information from Media1.hu, a portal monitoring the Hungarian media market, Varga announced a cut to operating costs due to the coronavirus pandemic in an email dated 23 March. A few days later, shortened working hours were ordered for all employees for a temporary period, implying a reduction in salaries. The fact that Zoltan Varga rushed to Politico to complain and mourn the freedom of the Hungarian press is curious if we consider that his wealth has grown fabulously over the past 10 years.
In 2010, when former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany’s era ended and the Socialist government was replaced by the Fidesz party, Varga’s wealth amounted to 6.5 billion forints (21.3 million euros at today’s exchange rate), making him the 79th wealthiest person in Hungary. However, his assets have grown more than sixfold since then. Varga’s wealth of 43.2 billion forints (124.8 million euros) put him at 30th place last year, according to the 2019 compilation of Forbes magazine. It means that the entrepreneur who owns the opposition media has increased his wealth nearly sevenfold in the last 10 years.