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Index and Népszabadság for sale?

June 17th, 2016

Widespread rumours that Lajos Simicska will buy Index and that a pro-government consortium plans to take over the main left-wing daily prompt a right-wing analyst to suggest that Index will be put at the service of Jobbik.

According to a news story first published by 168 óra, the main owner  of the Vienna-based Mediaworks company hasasked for a meeting with PM Orbán, in an attempt to sell his Hungarian  press portfolio, including Népszabadság and Nemzeti  Sport (the most popular sports daily). 168 óra writes that a consortium has been set up under the auspices of Lőrinc Mészáros, the Mayor of Felcsút (the Prime Minister’s birthplace) made up of contributions from several enterprises, to prepare for a major publishing investment. Zoltán Spéder, the financier who is now at loggerheads with government circles has a large stake in Mediaworks. He is also the ultimate owner of Index, the most popular online news outlet and is reported to be willing to get rid of his press portfolio. On the other hand, 168 óra reports that Lajos Simicska,  former treasurer of Fidesz and now an adversary of PM Orbán has a contractual option to take over Index whenever he chooses.

On 888, Gábor G. Fodor describes Mr Simicska’s manoeuvres as an attempt to build a press empire behind the radical right-wing Jobbik party. As he sees it,‘the Simicska media’, that is Magyar Nemzet and  Hír TV are actively trying to  depict Jobbik az a presentable political force. He has already ‘discovered’ similar attitudes on Index, which has been “appreciative” in its reporting of Jobbik’s latest congress.  Fodor has no doubt in his mind that Index’s  authors who are so proud of their alleged independence, will not find it difficult to adapt to Mr Simicska’s expectations, and after having kept silent about Mr Spéder’s business problems, will now also avoid looking into Mr Simicska’s.


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