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Magyar Nemzet shuts down

April 12th, 2018

As media tycoon Lajos Simicska withdraws from several important outlets, commentators complain that a piece of Hungarian history is disappearing with the daily Magyar Nemzet – unless a political investor manages to save it.

Former Fidesz treasurer Lajos Simicska who broke with PM Orbán in 2015 and turned his media empire against the government decided to get rid of the less effective outlets after the crushing electoral victory of Fidesz. He will keep funding Index.hu and HírTV, his two outlets with the highest market penetration. Magyar Nemzet and Lánchíd Rádió announced that they would close down on Wednesday, while Heti Válasz has been given a free hand to find new investors. LMP Presidium member Péter Ungár said he was negotiating with Mr Simicska to possibly take over the three outlets.

In what has been announced as Magyar Nemzet’s last issue, a series of personalities express their sadness over the closure of what has been the most important daily in Hungary over most of the past 80 years. Leading Magyar Nemzet columnist Zsuzsanna Körmendy says she is convinced that the long civic tradition her daily represents will survive. LMP founder András Schiffer calls Magyar Nemzet a cultural treasure and the only independent media outlet over the past 4 to 5 years.

On his Facebook page, Péter Ungár, a member of the LMP Presidium confirmed the rumours about his offer to buy Magyar Nemzet, Lánchíd Radio and Heti Válasz. Mr Ungár intends to use his heritage to keep the three outlets afloat (his late father was a successful real estate investor). Personal wealth, he writes, comes with the responsibility of ‘using it for the benefit of the nation’.

In Népszava, Judit N. Kósa who started her career at Magyar Nemzet finds it sad that newspapers are not sustained anymore by the market, that is the readers, while the government plays a disproportionate role in media advertising. ‘From a branch of power’, she writes, ‘the media has become a shabby requisite of the political circus’.

In Heti Válasz, editor Gábor Borókai invites sympathisers to subscribe to save his weekly.


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