Govt exempts Central European Press and Media Foundation acquisitions from competition oversight

alHungary’s government has declared the acquisition of Echo Hungaria TV, Magyar Idok, New Wave Media and Opus Press by the Central European Press and Media Foundation of “strategic national significance”, thus exempting the transaction from the scrutiny of the Competition Office (GVH), a decree published in the official gazette Magyar Kozlony show.The Central European Press and Media Foundation said a week earlier that it had received offers to take over the four companies which control a broad range of holdings in print, internet and broadcast media. The Government Information Centre said in a statement sent late Wednesday that “saving print media culture in Hungary is in the public interest…especially ensuring the continued existence of public forums at the county level in the long term”.

It noted that the Central European Press and Media Foundation had established this goal in its charter. “Especially worthy of support is [the Central European Press and Media Foundation's] wish to achieve this goal not with the aim of gaining profit, but in the form of a nonprofit foundation,” the Government Information Centre added.

The Central European Press and Media Foundation also said a week earlier that it had been approached by a number of parties who said they wished to join the foundation in its efforts to “help maintain Hungary’s culture of print journalism” and had signed agreements with ten media companies to acquire majority stakes in their businesses. They include the operators of radio broadcasters Part FM, Gong FM and Retro Radio; film and TV programme production company Hung-Ister; television broadcaster HirTV; the publisher of weekly Figyelo; the publisher of Lokal, a daily distributed free of charge, and news portal 888.hu; the publisher of weekly Deli Szo and internet portal szegedma.hu; the publisher of daily Ripost, Hello! magazine and the internet portals ripost.hu and faktor.hu; and the publisher of news portal mandiner.hu.