How Oligarchs Are Taking Over the World

PRAGUEA few months before he first ran for office in the Czech Republic, the second richest man in the country made his way to the newsroom of the nations most influential daily and tried to convince its reporters that he was not going to use their paper, which hed just purchased the day before, for political purposes.

Write freely about things you want, he told them.

Of course, Andrej Babis didnt keep his word. Four years later and Mlad fronta Dnes has turned from a paper that once helped bring down a prime minister, when he refused to tell its reporters where hed gotten the money to pay for a luxury apartment, into whats been called a wreck without any investigative activity.

Babis, on the other hand, was appointed as the new prime minister in Prague last Wednesday.

He managed to convince voters that he is the only person in politics rich enough to selflessly, as his campaign put it, run the country like a business. And this even though he was charged with fraud two weeks before the elections, for illegally obtaining E.U. subsidies to fund his luxury hotel in the countryside outside Prague.

You see, its not only in the United States that men who are, or claim to be, billionaires have soaring political aspirations and careers. Beyond ideologysometimes on center stage, sometimes directing from the wings, and sometimes harnessed to a strongmanbillionaires have become the key political players in many parts of Europe, from Rome to Tbilisi, from Budapest to Kiev and Moscow.

The common element has been the constructionor cooptationof a pro-billionaire media empire.

And the common element, in most cases, has been the constructionor cooptationof a pro-billionaire media empire.

In Prague, when Babis told reporters at MF Dnes they could write freely, lead investigative journalist Jaroslav Kmenta asked, So can we write about you being a godfather? He didnt get a clear answer. At least, not then.

The billionaire, who is also described as a very high energy person, is still struggling to form a government. Those annoying fraud charges are partly to blame. Few potential partners want to risk a coalition with an alleged criminal.

Meanwhile, Kmenta, who quit his job at MF Dnes and now has to publish his work online at his own expense, gloomily compares the takeover in 2013 to our 9/11 for free media.

He might be right, but at least there are still independent news outlets in the Czech Republic that serve as a counterweight to Babiss media holdings.

In Hungary, on the other hand, a group of Prime Minister Viktor Orbns associates have purchased a major chunk of the media while most of the remainder already belongs to the state anyway.

The collapse of the old news media business after the financial crisis of 2008 has aided and abetted the billionaire takeovers all over the map. Silvio Berlusconi, who built his fortune with private TV networks, is back in a key position to influence Italys national elections next year. In the United States (never mind that the Donald Trump teams Plan B was to set up Trump TV if they lost the election) the climate-change disinformation funding Koch brothers recently backed Meredith Corporations purchase of the faltering Time Inc. Meredith may sell some of Times weekly magazines, perhaps to the owner of the pro-Trump National Enquirer.

And then there is Sinclair Media, an ultraconservative broadcaster with a pro-Trump agenda that stands to become the biggest group of local TV stations in U.S. historynot least because the politically ambitious chairman of the Federal Broadcasting Commission, whom the Democrats want to investigate for liaising with both Sinclair and the Trump administration, has decided to slash some of the protections against monopolies in local broadcast news.

JIRI TILL, a friendly looking 28-year-old chain smoker whose favorite TV show is Shark Tank, spent much of the past year making spreadsheets for the Babis campaign. He first admired the billionaire from afar at a career fair in Budapest years ago. And hes still hooked. After a press conference in the summer, Babis invited his team to lunch at a hotel. The mogul, who had been tense earlier, ordered a glass of wine and got out his cell phone to rip apart the coverage. He was like, Oh my god, this reporter is so stupid, Till says, then adds, But he said it in a funny way!

According to a politician who used to work with Babis, expressing a widely held view, People are either his servants or his enemies.

The new prime minister isnt just sensitive about his Slovak accent, sometimes sneered at by political commentators. Even after the government made him put his media company in a trust, he couldnt help but call up a reporter to discuss exactly what scandalous items about his political rivals should be published before the election or saved for next year.

A tape of this conversation was posted on Twitter earlier this year. But it hardly fazed Babiss supporters, since many sincerely believe the mogul when he claims his enemies (or those not on his payroll) are ganging up on him. Naturally a candidate frequently and unfairly slandered would need to dictate the content of his own newspapers to set the record straight.

Meanwhile, Babis still says he lets his reporters write freely. Being sleazy is bad for business, he likes to argue. After all, he is the kind of man, who, even as he mocks the E.U. to a cheering crowd, would never do anything to endanger the Michelin-rated restaurant that he owns on the French Riviera. Still, his media groups consistently dire revenue predictions suggest that the billionaire did not buy the company because he thought it was going to be profitable.

Which is something he has with other local oligarchs whove been shopping around Central Europe for stakes in the media. One newspaper owner in Slovakia openly admitted that he didnt consider media investment to be a classical investment but more about politics and an attempt to protect the investors interest.

IN HUNGARY theres a slightly different model. Viktor Orbns government didnt wait around for economic pressures to take their tollthey pressured foreign media conglomerates to sell off their assets. A lot of those are now in the hands of a small group of people, including Andy Vajna, a Hollywood producer turned government employee. His loss-making TV channel broadcasts character assassinations of Orbns opponents to a national audience. And it wouldnt survive without the generous amounts of state advertising that the government pours into it.

Vajna, who fled to the United States in the 1950s when he was 12 years old, decided to move back to his native country in the year that Orbn got elected. With blockbuster movies like The Terminator and Rambo on his resum, he got a job working for the new government as a film commissioner.

Maybe I am an idealist. I am not doing this for the money, but to make Hungarian films great again, he told the German paper Die Welt in 2011.

But, yeah, there is a lot of money involved, too.

Even Vajnas critics admit that he is not doing a bad job commissioning good films. But the opulence of his lifestyle has a lot more to do with the fact that he is the only person allowed to operate casinos in Budapest. And, as Polyak Gabor, an analyst at Mertek Media Monitor, puts it, You do not get such gifts in exchange for nothing.

Indeed, the 73-year-old billionaire was not just able to use his gambling profits to purchase the second biggest commercial TV channel in the country. He also bought a radio station in Budapest, which, between the pop songs, broadcasts announcements denouncing the supposed conspiracies of George Soros, widely viewed as a good-guy billionaire for supporting civil society and the rule of law.

To say the pen is mightier than the sword is to indulge in anachronisms.

And now Vajna is turning his radio station, Radio 1, into the only national commercial radio network ahead of next years electionsby making local stations an offer to lease their airtime that, as one mayor from the ruling Fidesz party said, they could not refuse.

Gabor knows one station owner in Pecs, a city close to the Croatian border, who agreed to run Radio 1s morning show. In return, he didnt just get paid handsomely. He was also gifted with an extra regional frequency by the media authority, just by virtue of having done some business with Vajna. The local market is weak, Gabor says, It pays to play along.

The Czech Republic is still a long way from becoming Hungary. And yet, whether its a populist leader who buys high quality newspapers or the oligarchs appointed as puppet CEOs by an illiberal government, the obvious result, according to Joerg Forbrig, a political scientist from the German Marshall Fund, is that the press becomes limited in how it can act as a check on democracy.

To say the pen is mightier than the sword is to indulge in anachronisms. The question is whether the media in any form can stand up to the power of billionaire oligarchs. In much of Eastern Europe, at least, the oligarchs are winning.

More From this publisher : HERE ; This post was curated using : TrendingTraffic

 


RELATED PRODUCTS
  • Learn How to Date Classy Women with Mike Pilinski's Books and MP3's
  • How easily you can have a disney world vacation for a fraction of what others pay.
  • Shoot Profit Pulling Videos using the Power of DSLR Video
  • Save Hundreds To Thousands Of Dollars On A Disney World Vacation.
  • This system is the perfect combination of sheer trading power and utter simplicity.
  • Make Some Extra Cash Online, Part-Time Or Full-Time.
  • Learn How To Captivate A Man, Make Him Fall In Love... And Want To Give You The World
  • Get the best out of ClickBank and become a top Internet marketer
  • Clickbank Ads
     

    If you like our content help us with a share… or two …  

    Also -  I have some free stuff for you .......

    Nr 1. In This FREE Report you can Discover:

    Secrets to acquiring the freshest, hottest leads via YouTube In-Stream ads quickly and easily! Best secret tips for the most effective targeting for your ads! Totally legal, but little-known method for literally stealing traffic from your competitors! Get more traffic to your videos and landing pages without spending a fortune! And much more - all within this special FREE report!

     

    Nr 2. Did you know you can Absolutely EXPLODE YOUR EMAIL LIST FOR FREE with UNTOUCHED offline sources?

     

    Nr 3. The #1 secret to becoming an affiliate superstar - Earn your first $100 online – without a dime to invest.

    If you’re still looking to “make it online – I have just the thing for you. It’s a video series that shows how to make your first $100 online – even if you don’t have a dime to invest. Yes – nothing.  Free.  Nada. Is this possible? You bet. It’s the most powerful system used by those “in the know”. Good things don’t have to be difficult. And they don’t only come to those who wait. Have A Look

     

    Nr 4. Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes. Which of these mistakes do you make?

     

    Nr 5.  You can learn about : The hottest social networking site that will send an unlimited stampede of traffic to your site - for FREE! How to quickly locate a swarm of hungry buyers using "information portals"! The fast and easy way to use simple images to siphon targeted traffic, on command! Learn how to get the most possible traffic from Instagram, and make sure that traffic converts! And much more ...

     

    Nr 6. It’s no secret… Facebook is an incredible place to get tons of free, viral traffic. But… most people are going about it all wrong.  How many of these mistakes are you making? Download the free report to find out.

       

    Nr 7.  Special free report .  It's called "Operation Midas Touch" and you can download it here...

    The report features a surefire method for generating at least $1000 per week online,without a website or product of your own!

    Nr 8.  Instagram is still one of the hottest ways to get a LOT of traffic fast. All by sharing images. Sounds easy enough, yeah? Well, yes and no. If you want to really start driving a lot of  traffic and making sales using Instagram then you should download this report.

    Nr 9.  When it comes to creating a product online there are so many ways to approach it. Wouldn’t it be great to just get the meat of it all so you can get started faster? Well, the good news is, today you can download a guide called the Product Creation Formula Quickstart Guide. It’s as the title suggests - a Quickstart guide. You’ll get a list of action steps to take right away. Download your copy today !

    Nr 10. Would you like to finally USE all of that dusty PLR you have sitting around on your harddrive? Or maybe find the resources for the best PLR available - at the best prices? What about how to use that PLR to make you money with just a few minutes of work. Well, you’re not going to want to miss this!

      Nr 11. Buzzfeed’s top post has more than 21 million views. Think about that for a sec… ONE of their articles has had over 21 million people who have read it! And they have thousands of articles... what would you do with that kind of traffic? A friend of mine hacked their method and was able to use it to get 11,592 targeted new subscribers in 2 weeks on their very first attempt!

    Nr 12. Push notifications are one of today's hottest trends in website traffic and conversions, and for good reason. Studies have shown that as many as 40% of people will opt-in for push notifications, which is about TEN TIMES the rate of people who opt-in for emails! That’s huge! Not only that, but they're also highly effective at pulling clicks, as well. Some studies have shown CTR at an average of around 40%, with highs of as much as 80%! Again, that’s huge!

    Nr 13. Would you like to know how to get more money from the exact same number of website visitors you’re currently getting? Even if you’re website is getting as few as 1-2 visitors a day, this report will show you how to increase your profits using these few handy hacks.

    Nr 14. People have now realised that it's not the size of the list which matters, it's the quality. ... and the only way to create a quality list is by launching your own products. Let it be $7 ebooks, $17 info products, $27 video training product or software's... all of these work. My good friend Kevin Fahey has is revealing how he's launched over 20 products in the past 4 years, many of them top sellers. Needless to say he's banked a handsome amount in this time.

    Nr 15. Do you ever feel that the man you like or even love, just doesn't see you or desire you in way you want him to? Or... maybe you're able to get a man's attention though not the right kind of attention? Or... maybe you're still single because you wait and wait for men to approach you first? What you may not know is that the way we flirt will either attract the "wrong" man for us or the "right" man.

    Nr 16. When it comes to getting sales and leads online, there is ONE thing that 95% of marketers use... it's called a LIST. My friend Jimmy just released a free book that explains WHY a list is important and how YOU can build your own list. It's available right here (and it won't cost you a penny)

    Nr 17. If you have tried everything, and still aren't able to get your Ex back, then you need to pay attention.

    Nr 18. What if I told you that you could make ANY woman WANT to do ANYTHING for you? Would you think I'm crazy? Well... what If I told you that you could also make her LOVE every minute of it and come back for more?

       

    Nr 19. I have a special free plugin for you today. It's called "Covert Hover Mini"

    This plugin will triple your blog traffic by compelling your visitors to share your images on social media. This is some really clever stuff and it works like a charm. After you grab your free plugin, don't  forget to read the free bonus report as it will show exactly how and why this strategy works like crazy.

    Nr 20. The days of being able to get away with a basic WP theme and a pic or two are gone, your site needs to look good. Even Google are looking for you to have engaging graphics on your site. But getting good quality graphics made for your site is a pain, AND it will cost you both time and money (if you outsource it). But I have a special free download for you today. A virtual treasure chest of over 21K profit pulling graphics you can start sing today to generate more traffic & sales!

    Nr 21. 20 professional full HD background videos. These background videos are perfect for giving your videos that extra kick they need to stand out from the crowd Oh yeah they are in full 1080p HD too, I hope you'll enjoy them.

    Nr 22. If you've ever failed to create a WordPress site of your own or typically waste hours & even weeks trying to figure it all out on your own....

    Nr 23. No doubt, you've seen all of the video launches lately! There is a reason for it... Video marketing is a GREAT way to make money, and with the recent creation tools making it super accessable for anyone to get started... It's no surprise that more people are making videos. However... there is a missing element to most video marketing products...

    Nr 24. For the first time ever... You can get the straight scoop on how someone is selling over $1,000,000/year of t-shirts on Facebook!

    Use them  .... and have fun !