Secrecy over new left-wing web portal stirs media hype

Since announcing his plans in February, the editor of a left-leaning Hungarian news portal set to launch in May remains evasive about details of the new outlet, including its financial backing and ownership. The new outlet will be headed by former Index editor-in-chief Péter Uj and includes a team of former Index journalists. Uj’s new operation could rival Index, Hungary’s top online news portal, in the competition for left-wing readers and advertisers, especially during the upcoming 2014 election season.

Uj’s secrecy about his new portal has worked to fuel media speculation and hype ahead of the site’s launch. The editor has denied rumors that the portal is funded by opposition politician Gordon Bajnai but has not revealed who the owners are. Another rumor is that the news portal will be supported by the so-called “Friends, Family, Fools (FFF)” system—a new business model based on financial support from close friends and entrepreneurs.

In March, Uj issued a tender for sales-house companies to manage his website’s advertising, inviting three major media companies—Origo, Adaptive Media, and Sanoma—to apply. The project’s launch was set for early April but has been delayed until May for unknown reasons—perhaps to generate more media hype. Even the name is not officially known: Initially, the website was said to be called Jeti Válasz—“Yeti’s Answer” to the pro-Government weekly Heti Válasz (“Weekly Answer”). However, insiders now say it could be named 444.hu—444 being two-thirds of 666 (the number of Satan), in reference to Fidesz’s two-thirds electoral victory in 2010.

—Mária Sánta