Chris Dziadul looks at DTT in Hungary
While Hungary’s political problems are far from over, recent developments have proved that its rival parties can in work together in certain areas.
Fortunately one of those is broadcasting policy, and earlier this week parliament passed a much-needed law on digitalisation and programme distribution. Though far from perfect, it has to be commended for introducing a level playing for all forms of digital distribution and – just as importantly – paving the way for the launch of DTT services.
Although Hungary has had a small-scale DTT operation up and running in Budapest and Kabhegy by Lake Balaton since September 2004, it has hitherto made little if no impression on the marketplace. As a direct result of the new law, it will effectively be superseded by an altogether different, and undoubtedly more appealing, service.
This will use three multiplexes – a fourth will be added when the public broadcaster MTV finally relinquishes its analogue frequencies – and probably operate a mixed free/pay business model. The first multiplex is all but accounted for, with capacity reserved for three public channels (M1, M2 and Duna TV), the national private stations RTL Klub and TV2, Hir TV, ATV and a still-to-be-launched new commercial station. Interestingly, in a sign of compromise between the respective political parties, Hir TV is strongly linked to the right-of-centre Fidesz and ATV to the ruling left-of-centre MSZP.
While the composition of the second and third multiplexes has still to be decided, part of the second’s capacity will be allocated to mobile TV services.
T-Mobile and Antenna Hungária are currently undertaking mobile trials and the latter is also likely to be a strong candidate in the forthcoming DTT multiplex operator licence competition this autumn.
Hungary has still to enact a new broadcast law addressing such areas as new media and public service broadcasting. However, recent developments demonstrate that it is now moving in the right direction.