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Hungary: Closing of Nepszabadsag opposition newspaper raises concerns about freedom of press & expression

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Company response
13 October 2016

response by Mediaworks/VCP

Author: Mediaworks

On 30 September 2016, Mediaworks acquired PLT. The company is now a truly regional publisher with a strong national foothold in sports and magazines. These days, the company's Budapest operation is moved to a newly refurbished and cost-efficient headquarters in Bécsi út 122-124, Budapest (the Népszabadság building), which has more than 400 work places. This promises to provide stable economic conditions, which is the best guarantee for journalistic excellence. Despite revenue growth and management’s cost-cutting measures, Népszabadság has so far been unable to achieve economic success, and management’s priority must be to resolve this, finding the best future business model. Operating under its current business model, Népszabadság is adversely affecting the performance of the whole group and will continue to do so in the long term, unless it is put on a completely new footing. The long-term future of the group and of more than 1,000 employees, as well as the group’s publications, depend on the editorials, readership and economic success....

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13 October 2016

“An unacceptable violation of democratic norms!” protest Hungary’s independent media

Author: Budapest Beacon

...The following editorial appeared on the front page of the October 12th, 2016 edition of  left-wing print daily “Népszava” and other surviving members of Hungary’s independent media: It is with astonishment that we learned of the brutally fast, sly closure of Népszabadság. Instead of new editorial offices, the deceived journalists, our colleagues, found themselves in the street. After the liquidation of one of the remaining workshops of democratic publicity independent of the government, even less opportunity remains for Hungarian society to inform itself about the activities of elected officials. This is especially worrying at a time when government influenced or directed media outlets financed by copious public funds have come to dominate Hungary’s public forum.  For democracy cannot function without a free press featuring balanced information, professional fact-finding, investigative journalism, and a wide-range of opinions...

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12 October 2016

Talks on selling Népszabadság stall

Author: Budapest Business Journal

Negotiations on finding a buyer for left-wing daily newspaper Népszabadság, which was unexpectedly closed down at the weekend, have come to a halt, according to reports. Owner Mediaworks said in an announcement that former editor-in-chief András Murányi called off the talks; however, Murányi told online news portal index.hu that he did not...“Mediaworks regretfully acknowledges that the meeting called by the editor-in-chief of Népszabadság to discuss the potential acquisition of the paper was cancelled by the editor-in-chief shortly before it was scheduled to start today,” Hungarian news agency MTI reported today, citing the publisher. “Mediaworks and its owners remain open to talks on the future of the paper, thus we hope that representatives of the editorial staff will soon return to the negotiating table and support the formulation of the paperʼs renewal with constructive proposals,” the announcement added...

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8 October 2016

Thousands rally after Hungary's leading leftist newspaper unexpectedly shuts

Author: Reuters

Around 2,000 Hungarians protested in Budapest on Saturday against the closure of the country's leading leftist newspaper Nepszabadsag, saying press freedom was under threat. Owner Mediaworks said on Saturday it had suspended the newspaper and its employees after the publication piled up significant losses despite cost cuts. It said it would revamp the organisation. But civil rights groups said the newspaper had been shut down because it had published stories critical of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government and called for the demonstration in front of the parliament building..."Sudden closure of Nepszabadsag sets a worrying precedent. I stand in solidarity with Hungarians protesting today," European Parliament President Martin Schulz tweeted...Mediaworks, owned by Austrian firm Vienna Capital Partners, said it was working on a new business model for Nepszabadsag (People's Freedom), which has been in publication since November 1956...

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