Amid staff layoffs, public media turns to government-linked private production firms

Outgoing editorial staff of Hungary’s public media say that management is outsourcing production to external contractors to compensate for the lack of internal staff, according to Vasárnapi Hírek. Hungary’s public media management company, the MTVA, has laid off around 1,000 public media staff since 2011, claiming the cuts are necessary to trim bloated budget costs. The paper reported that some of the outside contracts will go to a production company owned by Csaba Belénessy, the former head of Hungary’s public media news agency, MTI, who was appointed to run MTI during the public media’s early restructuring following the passage of the 2010 media laws.

Belénessy stepped down from his post at MTI in December 2012. Belénessy was one of the co-founders and former editor-in-chief of Lánchíd Rádió, the conservative radio station owned by Fidesz-linked businessmen Gabor Liszkay and Zsolt Nyerges.

According to the report, cuts to public media staff are especially heavy among cultural editorial units, which will mean less in-house production for cultural programming. “There is a cleansing going on, which particularly concerns the culture section, and whatever they can, they will produce with external contractors,” an outgoing editor-reporter was quoted as saying.