Péter Rózsa, the editor-in-chief of 168 Óra (168 Hours) was dismissed after the left-wing weekly published an article with a photo of PM Viktor Orbán and his family. The photo in question was first published by the Prime Minister himself on his official social media page.
The photo was used for an article titled ‘Family disguise,’ discussing the Orbán government’s family policy and its controversies.
The CEO and co-owner of Brit Media, which owns publisher company Telegráf Kft, Pál Milkovics, argued that the inclusion of the prime minister’s under-aged child “crossed the line of decency.” He later also claimed to consider this a “moral issue and not a legal one” and insisted that he would follow the same procedure in the case of any other politician.
He also revealed that when he found out about the photo in question, he wanted to reclaim the paper from newspaper distributors, but that was already impossible.
Fact 168 Óra
is a left-wing, opposition paper with a complex background. For example, Brit Media – a company that partly owns Telegráf Kft, publisher of the paper — is linked to
Slomó Köves, the leader of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, who has recently become an ally of the government and Orbán’s, and is on the receiving end of generous state supports. Moreover, in 2019, after the dismissal of the previous editor-in-chief Ákos Tóth (the former assistant editor
of left-wing daily Népszabadság
), three important journalists, including Zoltán Lakner (who since established Jelen
weekly) left the newspaper. This was also the time of Rózsa’s appointment.
As a result, the move raised speculation as to whether this was indeed the true reason beyond Milkovics’s decision. Liberal 24.hu‘s investigations suggest that this might have only been the trigger for the change Milkovics perhaps wanted for some time.
For instance, the newspaper’s unfavorable financial situation might have also played a role. It has indeed been operating at a loss since 2016. In 2018, for example, the loss amounted to HUF 144 million (EUR 400,000).
Also, according to 24.hu‘s sources, Milkovics had ongoing conflicts with Rózsa and wanted a more centrist paper with more right-wing opinions. In addition, it has long been known that the prime minister is extremely sensitive when outlets write about his family members, especially about those not involved in politics.
Milkovics, however, denied these claims, and pointed out the good relationship between Rózsa and himself and only blamed the photo’s publication for his decision.
Rózsa is now replaced by József Makai, the assistant editor of Milkovics’s other newspaper, Pesti Hírlap.
In the featured photo: Péter Rózsa. Photo via atv.hu