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CME takes stake in Budapest channel

BUDAPEST — U.S.-controlled media investment company Central European Media Enterprises (CME) is once again a player in Hungary’s TV industry.

“We’ve taken over 89% of Budapest’s TV3,” CME’s director for development James Cox said Friday. He declined to divulge the price paid for the station. “We will relaunch the station on Oct. 26,” he added. CME sealed the purchase agreement on Thursday.

TV3 is seen as the next best thing to a national channel because although it only broadcasts to Budapest it also has a substantial cable viewership in the rest of Hungary.

After being sidelined in June when Hungary’s broadcast council passed CME over for one of two terrestrial frequencies being auctioned off, CME had its aspirations to launch a Hungarian terrestrial TV channel resurrected by a Hungarian court.

The Capital Court of Budapest issued a ruling that could possibly lead to a reversal of the council’s June 30 decision to reject CME’s bid for a state-owned terrestrial frequency. Scandinavian Broadcasting System and CLT-Ufa won the coveted licenses in that auction.

A hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 12 when the court will rule on new evidence from taped and written broadcast council meeting minutes. The judge stated that the court has the jurisdiction to prevent the winning consortiums from airing if it deems that laws have been violated.

Until now, analysts believed that the $16.5 million lawsuit filed by CME’s Hungarian subsidiary MKTV against the council was an issue of compensation only.

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