|Owner(s)||Mediaworks Hungary Zrt. (99,9%) → Vienna Capital Partners|
Népszabadság is a major left-leaning Hungarian newspaper.
History and profile
Népszabadság was founded in November 1956 as successor of Szabad Nép (meaning The Free People in English) which was established in 1942 as the central organ of the dissolved Hungarian Working People's Party. Népszabadság was also the organ of the party.
At the beginning of the 1990s, following the collapse of the communist regime, the paper was privatized and the owners were Bertelsmann AG Germany (50%), the Free Press Foundation (Szabad Sajtó Alapítvány in Hungarian (a foundation of the Socialist Party, MSZP)) (26%), the First Hungarian Investment Fund (16.8%), and the Editorial Staff Association (6%).
The current editor-in-chief is Marcell Murányi who was appointed to the post in July 2014. The paper is published in broadsheet format and has its main office in Budapest. In 2004, the newspaper secured sufficient funds to build an entirely new, high capacity, full color printing facility for its own exclusive use, which is rare for the Hungarian press. The expanded use of color was meant to preserve the Népszabadság's uncontested number one position among daily newspapers. It has more copies circulated than all of its Hungarian competitors combined, although circulation is declining quickly (see below).
The paper is close to the MSZP and Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) parties and its editorials often supported, though frequently also criticized, the former socialist-liberal government. Its editorials sometimes speak out against the popular Fidesz party. Its international agenda is usually supportive of EU and US policies, though rare criticism includes U.S. President George W. Bush's "democracy export" initiative. Népszabadság follows the US in calling certain countries rogue states or part of the axis of evil and is somewhat critical of Arab countries, both on political and human rights grounds.
Népszabadság had the largest circulation up until 2002 when it was overtaken by Blikk, a tabloid newspaper and Metropol, the free newspaper. As most political daily newspapers worldwide (in developed countries and also in Hungary), the circulation of Népszabadság is declining. The number of its readers significantly reduced in the period between 2005 and 2010.
The following circulation numbers are based on audited data:
- 1989: 460 thousand
- 1991: 327 thousand
- 1993: 305 thousand
- 1994: 300 thousand
- 1995: 285 thousand
- 1998: 225 thousand
- 2000: 203 thousand
- 2002: 195 thousand
- 2003: 172 thousand
- 2009: 99,446
- 2010: 70 thousand
- 2011: 63 thousand
- 2013: 46 thousand
In 2003, Népszabadság was subject to a high profile scandal for the paper had published a letter on the front page allegedly from Edward Teller. The letter, later proved to be a fake, pretended to be from the Hungarian-born physicist appeared in Népszabadság shortly after his death, claiming to express dissatisfaction with antisemitism and anti-US sentiments in the opposition Fidesz party. The letter turned out to be fabricated by the retired journalist László Zeley, Teller's Hungarian editor.
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- (Hungarian) The history and ownership of Népszabadság
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