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Talks on selling Népszabadság stall

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Negotiations on finding a buyer for left-wing daily newspaper Népszabadság, which was unexpectedly closed down at the weekend, have come to a halt, according to reports. Owner Mediaworks said in an announcement that former editor-in-chief András Murányi called off the talks; however, Murányi told online news portal index.hu that he did not.

“Mediaworks regretfully acknowledges that the meeting called by the editor-in-chief of Népszabadság to discuss the potential acquisition of the paper was cancelled by the editor-in-chief shortly before it was scheduled to start today,” Hungarian news agency MTI reported today, citing the publisher. “Mediaworks and its owners remain open to talks on the future of the paper, thus we hope that representatives of the editorial staff will soon return to the negotiating table and support the formulation of the paperʼs renewal with constructive proposals,” the announcement added. 

Murányi told index.hu that he was surprised at the announcement. He stressed that he had set prerequisites for the talks, including clarification of the status and financial situation of employees in the current condition of insecurity, as well as the requirement for the lien on the paper to be lifted, index.hu reported.

As index.hu reported yesterday, Népszabadság journalists revealed documents showing Mediaworks used the name of the paper and other names associated with the brand as collateral to get a loan from MKB Bank in August. In practice, the online news source noted, this means the sale of the newspaper cannot be completed without the consent of the bank, and makes it impossible for journalists to restart the paper under the same name, or a similarly sounding name.

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