A panorama of local media outlets in Pécs city

Atlatszo.hu’s new report series is focusing on the status quo of local media outlets in Hungary. This time Atlatszo.hu is looking at Pécs city’s panorama. In 2009 the local government seized the city’s water supplier from a French investor by taking illegal steps; and the privatization of the local public transportation company was also processed in a questionable way. The city held the European Capital of Culture title in 2010 – although that project was rather infamous than successful. The legacy of the past years is clearly reflected in the local media market as well.

In 2012 in an op-ed piece Zsolt Pauska, the editor-in-chief of a local daily called Pécsi Újság argued that only those media outlets can write freely which have enough advertising revenue; that way they can avoid the influence of political and economic circles. He was overlooking the fact that his own daily gained several million Hungarian forints in advertising revenue – coming from the local government.

An important player of the local media market is the city itself running “Pécs Médiaközpont Kft.” and “Pécs Tv Kommunikációs Kft.”. Through the two companies the city owns a television channel, a news site and a print newspaper. Locals told Atlatszo.hu that a former employee of the state owned Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA), Vilmos Velkovics restructured Pécs’s media centre in 2011 which resulted to the creation of a slightly right leaning but professionally acceptable media company. He was replaced by Gergely Kapitány in 2012 who worked for right wing television channels before. According to local accounts, the local government probably decided that the media outlet’s tone under Mr. Velkovics was not right leaning enough, and Mr. Kapitány already had his own ambitions to step forward from being the advisor to Pécs’s local government and other local companies.

Read the full story in Hungarian here.