Árpád Habony‘s new free newspaper will be pushing Lajos Simicska’s Metropol out of Budapest’s major transportation hubs, reports Hungarian daily Népszabadság. Metropol has for years been the only newspaper in Budapest passed out for free at virtually all the hubs around the city. Businessman Simicska‘s falling out of favor with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has caused significant damage to the oligarch’s business interests.
The international man of mystery and advisor to the prime minister Habony is planning for his media company, Modern Media Group Zrt., to launch the challenge by its new free print daily Lokál this June.
According to Népszabadság, the company is in talks with the Budapest transportation authority (BKV) and the state railway company (MÁV) for the rights to distribute the paper on BKV and MÁV property.
To print 150,000 copies of Lokál per day is estimated to cost Modern Media Group Zrt. at least HUF 1.5 billion (more than $5 million) per year. Népszabadság reports the paper is likely to be financed almost entirely through the state advertising revenues.
Népszabadság reports BKV decided to end its 17-year contract with Metropol because it would like to offer up the rights to sell on its property through a call for tenders, though no call for tenders has been announced yet.
According to BKV, they were approached by Modern Media Group Zrt. in April regarding the distribution of Lokál at subway stops and local train and trolly stations.
Based on statements by BKV, it is safe to assume that the city’s transportation authority and Habony’s company are likely to reach a distribution agreement soon.
The state railway company has only confirmed that it is in talks with Modern Media Group Zrt., but nothing beyond that.
According to Népszabadság, Habony’s company is seeking a broader distribution outside Budapest (into the suburbs) to reach a wider audience of commuters as well.