Hungary’s TV mogul on rise

Hungary may not yet have a private TV industry, but it is molding its first TV mogul.

Last week Hungarian businessman Tamas Gyarfas purchased 43% of Nap-TV, the only non-state controlled TV network operating in Hungary, from Postabank, the national postal carrier and one of Hungary’s largest banks.

Price was undisclosed.

Gyarfas, the CEO and a founder of Nap-TV, now controls 57% of the network. Gyarfas also owns a radio station, publishes a weekly sports mag, a TV and radio program guide and the country’s version of the Yellow Pages.

He is fast becoming the nation’s most high-profile communications entrepreneur. “(Gyarfus) is doing something serious,” explains media analyst Tibor Szendrei. “He’s about to become a Hungarian media magnate.”

As a telling indication of the potential of the station, a Japanese consortium recently purchased 15% of the network’s shares.

“Nap-TV has great goals,” said Szendrei. “The purpose of the Japanese takeover was to (get the capital) to create a 24-hour programming schedule.”

Nap-TV was able to establish itself as the only private TV network in Hungary by starting operations before the government’s ban on commercial licenses went into effect in June l989.

Despite off-and-on debate in parliament, the ban has not yet been lifted. Although Nap possesses a license to broadcast, the station was unable to obtain a frequency before the moratorium went into effect.

Nap has been transmitting in the morning via state-owned channel MTV Channel 2, which did not offer its own ayem schedule.

Nap extended its reach in January by cutting a deal with MTV to produce programming for a nationwide audience and acting as a “production company” for MTV. Nap’s national profile has risen greatly.

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