Hungary never was a market for being first out of the starting blocks. However, when it finally got going, catching up was never a problem.
While countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic wasted little time in launching national commercial stations in the years immediately following CEE’s return to democracy, Hungary imposed a frequency moratorium that in effect lasted until late 1997, when RTL Klub and TV2 finally made their debuts within weeks of each other. Both have since gone on to become highly successful broadcasters, and the Hungarian commercial TV market is as if not more dynamic than those in most other leading countries in the region.
Hungary has also been in no hurry to introduce DTT services, though in this it is little different to most of its neighbours. Despite starting trials as far back as 1999, and launching a limited service in Budapest and Kabhegy five years later, the absence of a strategy for the transition to digital broadcasting put everything on hold.
The impasse was finally broken with the enactment of new legislation in June last year. Known as the Law on Digitalisation and Programme Distribution, and reached following a rare agreement between all the leading political parties that many thought would never happen, it set out a timetable and procedure for the introduction of DTT services in the country.
Despite the delays that have since followed, things are now back on track following this week’s announcement of a tender by the National Telecommunications Authority (NHH). If all goes according to plan, Hungary will have a fully operational DTT platform by the end of this year or early 2009 at the latest.
Hungary certainly has the content for a DTT service, and its decision to allocate part of a multiplex for mobile TV services is both forward looking and admirable. As in the case of national commercial broadcasting a decade ago, catching up, and in this instance perhaps even overtaking, other leading markets in CEE, should present few problems.
Digital Broadcasting in Hungary is the theme of a Business Breakfast being organised by Broadband TV News and Telenor Satellite Broadcasting at the Sofitel Hotel in Budapest on Tuesday, April 15. Entrance to the event is free. For further details and to register, please go to: www.broadbandtvnews.com/budapest