A panorama of local media outlets in Miskolc

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 the northeastern Hungarian city Miskolc’s panorama with the help of a local journalist László Pusztai (eszakhirnok.com). Before the 1989/1990 transition the media landscape of Borsod county was irregular because in addition to the “Észak-Magyarország” (Northern Hungary) daily which was circulated county-wide, the county capital Miskolc also had its own publication called “Déli Hírlap” (Noon News). Észak-Magyarország was the usual communist daily published by the county-level administration, Déli Hírlap was a slightly tabloid style paper published by the city’s party committee.

The golden age for local media started in the 1990s and ended in 2005. Déli Hírlap was published for 30 years, “Heti Hírnök” (Weekly Messenger) was published for 20 years. MTV, Hungary’s public TV broadcaster closed down its local bureau in 2011; Miskolc Radio which belonged to the public radio broadcaster Hungarian Radio (Magyar Rádió) was shut down last year, after more than 50 years on the air.

After 2010 news sites started popping up one after the other. There is Eszakonline.hu, a site connected to the socialist party MSZP; the privately owned Eszakhirnok.com; and Minap.hu which is run by the local government. At the moment Eszakonline.hu and Eszakhirnok.hu have little influence compared to the Észak-Magyarország and its website Boon.hu owned by an Austrian publishing house; and compared to the media empire run by the local government (consisting of Miskolc TV, Miskolci Napló and Minap.hu). Monthly publication “Kulcs Magazin” is not influential either; the magazine was founded in 2007 by Ferenc Ódor, at that time the head of the local government which was full of right wing Fidesz party hardliners even under the socialist administration. The publication sells ca. 150,000 copies per year and works with an ever-tightening budget.

According to local journalist accounts, under the socialist MSZP government journalists could publish anything –  except at the local government’s paper. After 2010 the situation has changed and the local government doesn’t respond anymore to the requests of journalists whose texts they didn’t like. Now, unprecedentedly, lawsuits are being filed against journalists criticising the local government. Meanwhile Jolán Keszte has become the head of MIKOM Kft., the company running the local government’s media empire. Keszte is experienced in marketing communication, she worked with local companies at the Miskolc Holding Zrt. Many consider her appointment the sign of the local government’s dedication to using its media outlets during the 2014 election campaign.

Read the full article in Hungarian here.