The editor in chief is confident that he will not be compelled to close down Hungary’s oldest daily newspaper, but will probably be compelled to downsize it.
In a lengthy interview on VS, Népszava editor Péter Németh complains that on the left side of the political spectrum there are no businessmen who feel a moral duty to sustain the left-wing press, although many “owe their fortunes to Socialist governments”. He does not know whether or not former MSZP Treasurer László Puch is the owner of Népszava’s Swiss publisher, which announced in June that it would withdraw from financing the daily at the end of August. (The Socialist Party foundation that owns 25 per cent of the shares is declining to finance the monthly deficit). Németh says he would need another 10 thousand new subscribers (on top of the present 6 thousand) to be self-sufficient (500 readers have subscribed over the past two weeks), or a monthly contribution of 10 million, which he is trying to raise in talks with “the hundred richest Hungarians”. He complains that Népszava only gets 19 million HUF worth of public advertising a year, several times less than its right-wing competitors, although Közgép, a Fidesz-friendly building company continues to place its ads on Népszava’s pages. He could also break even by sacking twenty journalists, which would severely impair quality journalism. 10 staff members have already left,fearing the worst. All in all, Németh is confident that he will manage to keep his 140 year old newspaper (the Social Democrat daily until 1948) alive, although at the price of severely reducing staff and format.