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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 April, 2004, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
The press in Hungary
Hungary press graphic

After Hungary's peaceful transition from communism to democracy in 1989, existing newspapers gradually transformed their style and content, and took their readers with them into the new era.

Tabloids began to flourish and currently there are two main players in this competitive field, both foreign-owned titles (Blikk - circulation nearly 200,000; Mai Lap - circulation 67,000). But with its population of 10 million, Hungary is a small market.

With the exception of the conservative Magyar Nemzet, all the political broadsheets have left-liberal leanings. Between 1998 and 2002, the ruling conservative coalition tried to redress the balance by funding new centre-right publications and channelling state advertising to Magyar Nemzet. In 2002, the incoming left-wing and liberal parties cut off most of these sources of informal sponsorship.

Private ownership of publications was legalised in 1989, and most of the country's dailies are now at least partially foreign owned. In 1998 there were 40 national, regional and local daily newspapers published, with a total circulation of 1.7 million. By 2002, this had changed to 38 dailies with a circulation of nearly 1.6 million.

Mention should be made too of the important weekly titles. HVG (Weekly World Economics), 168 Ora (168 Hours), Elet es Irodalom (Life and Literature) Figyeloe (Observer) and Magyar Narancs (Hungarian Orange) were tremendously important in the years spanning the system change in airing new ideas and challenging boundaries. They are all thriving today; HVG boasts a circulation of 140,000.

Main papers

Nepszabadsag

Based: Budapest
Founded: 1942
Circulation: 198,000
Owner: Nepszabadsag Rt.

The country's biggest-selling broadsheet, fewer newspaper titles conjure up Hungary's era of goulash-communism as strongly as the name Nepszabadsag - "People's Freedom". At one time the paper of the ruling communist party, Nepszabadsag has evolved into a serious liberal broadsheet. It is now in the process of uncoupling itself from all ties with the governing Hungarian Socialist Party, which is selling its ownership share.


Blikk

Based: Budapest
Founded: 1994
Circulation: 196,000
Owner: Ringier-H

It's loud, it's brash, it's frequently vulgar and it costs about 60 forints (15 pence) to buy. Blikk feasts on celebrities, sport and crime stories. The tabloid is owned by the Swiss Ringier group and claims the highest readership, around 900,000, of any paper in the country. It burst onto the news-stands in 1994 and exemplified Hungary's post-communist thirst for a mix of tabloid news presentation, humour and sex.


Magyar Nemzet

Based: Budapest
Founded: 1937
Circulation: 93,000
Owner: Nemzet Lap- es Koenvykiadol

The country's second largest quality daily, Magyar Nemzet ('Hungarian Nation') boasts a circulation of nearly 100,000. It describes its values as "civic" and middle-class. During the Cold War it was the voice for non-communist but state-approved "Popular Front" groups. Magyar Nemzet is now the chief platform for conservative comment and opinion in the Hungarian press. It is seen as being close to the main opposition party, Fidesz, and boosted circulation after merging in 2000 with a smaller right-wing newspaper.


Magyar Hirlap

Based: Budapest
Founded: 1968
Circulation: 49,000
Owner: Publishing Factory Kft

An influential centre-left daily, editorially Magyar Hirlap (Hungarian Journal) strives to take an independent line, and often tends to support the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats. Today the paper is a stylish daily targeting the new middle class. In the late 1960s it was established to convey the facts of government policy without going overboard on propaganda.


Nepszava

Based: Budapest
Founded: 1873
Circulation: 31,000
Owner: n/a

Formerly the newspaper of the official trade union movement under communism, the left-wing daily Nepszava ('People's Voice') today has close links with the Hungarian Socialist Party. The smallest circulation of the four main political dailies, its readership is mainly traditional socialists. But the paper is seen aiming at a more high-brow market with access to senior government figures as it draws closer to the HSP.


Nemzeti Sport
Based: Budapest
Founded: 1903
Circulation: 88,000
Owner: Ringier-H

Total sport coverage, lots of colour, all under punchy banner headlines; "National Sport" has all the classic hallmarks of in-your-face tabloid sports journalism. Coupled with a loyal following that goes back decades, its success is reflected in its readership figures, estimated at over quarter of a million on sales of 88,000.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Hungary
16 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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