Budapest, October 11 (MTI) – The editor-in-chief of daily Népszabadság, whose publication was suspended over the weekend, cancelled a pre-arranged meeting with publisher Mediaworks about a possible sale of the paper to its editorial team, Mediaworks said on Tuesday.
“Mediaworks was sorry to hear that the editor-in-chief of Népszabadság cancelled a meeting he had initiated about a potential acquisition of the paper shortly before it was scheduled to start,” the publisher said in a statement. Mediaworks said the editorial team had not suggested an alternative time for talks.
Mediaworks added that it remains open to talks on Népszabadság’s future. “That is why we hope that representatives of the editorial team will soon sit down for talks once again and… help work out a way to renew the paper,” the publisher added.
The publisher also said that on Tuesday it held talks with the paper’s union representatives and that the parties agreed on a format for continued negotiations.
Nepszabadsag editor-in-chief András Murányi responded by saying that the editorial team was “surprised” by the publisher’s statement. Murányi said he had told Mediaworks on Tuesday that his precondition for entering into talks about buying the paper was that the uncertainty surrounding Népszabadság’s employees would have to be resolved.
He said that when the editorial team made its offer to Mediaworks they were unaware that there was a mortgage on Népszabadság’s trademarks. If talks on a potential acquisition are to start, Mediaworks should disclose how it intends to disencumber these trademarks before selling the paper, Murányi said. He added that later on Tuesday he would send Mediaworks a proposal for resolving the uncertainty surrounding the paper’s employees.
Murányi told reporters on Monday that in light of Népszabadság’s losses, the editorial team had offered to buy the paper for 1 euro.
Mediaworks on Saturday said it had suspended the publication of Népszabadság until it comes up with a new business model. It added that the paper’s circulation had dropped 74 percent while it had racked up more than 5 billion forints (EUR 16.4m) in losses over the last ten years.
On Monday the publisher said it was committed to “candid” negotiations with Népszabadság’s editors about a possible sale of the paper. Mediaworks added that it was committed to conducting the talks in good faith.