Zdenek Bakala’s Economia has pledged to donate 200,000 euros to a new independent Hungarian website called Telex.hu started by former journalists of the news website Index, who quit en masse in July citing government pressure.
Economia’s management said that it wants to express solidarity with the Hungarian media, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is trying to silence critical voices. Both parties are now fine-tuning the donations details and are also looking at a further possible collaboration.
The management of the Czech media house says the donation is in reaction to the endangerment of freedom of expression and media in Hungary and the situation around the Hungarian news site Index.
The chairwoman of the board of Economia, Zuzana Řezníčková, said that the departure of most of the Index’s editorial office heralded the decline of a previously respected and influential medium from a dwindling group of Hungarian press independent of the Fidesz government.
“Fortunately, the team of former editors of the Index has decided to continue high-quality, independent journalism within the new medium, the Telex online portal. Telex’s commitment to world-class journalism, especially when it is most needed, resonates strongly with us,” chair of the board at Economia, Zuzana Reznickova, said in a statement.
“In the spirit of solidarity, the board of directors and the owner of the media house have decided to support the Telex project with a donation of 200,000 euros for the initial costs of launching the website,” she added.
The only condition of the gift is that Telex remains committed to providing professional, free journalism. According to Telex CEO Márton Kárpári, confirmed Economia did not demand a share in his company.
Behind the news website Telex.hu are the former editors of the largest Hungarian portal Index.hu, who resigned after the release of editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull in the summer due to fears of losing their independence. The Telex.hu website is not yet operational, but some findings are already published by the editors on Facebook. According to Reuters, more than 32,000 people have already contributed to the website.
The media house Economia operates one of the most read Czech news websites Aktuálně.cz and a number of thematic internet titles and services, including freemail portals Centrum.cz and Atlas.cz.
Economia also publishes the daily Hospodářské noviny, the weekly magazines Ekonom and Respekt and several professional titles. It has been owned by businessman and investor Zdeněk Bakala for more than ten years.