Leaked bill suggests government aims to control billboard market

Parliament

A draft bill leaked to online news portal index.hu indicates that the Hungarian government may be planning to restructure the billboard advertising market. The government has not yet reacted to the report, which suggests that governing Fidesz-friendly circles could benefit from the move.

According to the draft, which was reportedly leaked to professionals in the market from an as yet unknown ministry, all billboards in Hungary’s public and private places would be dismantled as an attempt to fight against “visual environmental pollution,” the portal reported. The draft reportedly says that in some places billboards make the city view “too busy,” and the bill would create a “clean” city view.

After all present billboards have been removed, the draft bill says local councils would be able to grant concessions to companies to install new billboards and sell advertising on them, but in a significantly lower number than today, index.hu reported.

The move would come after the government itself carried out a highly visible and - as critics would have it - aggressive billboard campaign to promote the October 2 referendum on EU refugee quotas and urge voters to reject the EU plan.

Speculation has already arisen in the Hungarian press that the move could grant greater control to the governing Fidesz over the content of billboards, which could be beneficial for the party ahead of parliamentary elections in spring of 2018.

According to the leaked draft, the size of billboards would be limited to 9 square meters in future, advertising columns could only be used for "public education" purposes, and fly-posting would be banned entirely.

The Hungarian government had not yet addressed the press reports at time of writing.

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