Hungary: Lingering TV2 questions create buying anxiety

Mipcom 2005: Territory report

BUDAPEST — BS-controlled network TV2 makes up half of Hungary’s commercial terrestrial market, and the recent sale of the parent company to equity groups Permira and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has created short-term uncertainty regarding budgets, strategy and the future.

“TV2 will be a more cautious player at Mipcom,” says one Budapest seller about TV2’s buying strategies. “They’ll be hesitant about what to acquire.”

While the dust of the SBS sale settles, TV2’s main rival, RTL Media-controlled RTL Klub, recently reshaped its program schedule, reflecting the global trend away from reality television toward scripted fare.

RTL Klub has made the U.S. drama “Lost” the centerpiece of the fall schedule, launching the program with a high-profile marketing blitz.

“Lost” premiered Aug. 26 with a whopping 53% market share and, according to RTL Klub programming chief Peter Kolosi, is the first U.S. drama or sitcom since “ER” to occupy a dominant spot in RTL Klub’s primetime lineup.

The success of “Lost” underscores both how Hungarian tastes are moving away from reality TV and the new opportunities for American series in Hungary’s post-reality media universe.

For example, TV2 is launching “Desperate Housewives,” of which TV2’s Sylvia Graczka says, “We expect a lot from it.”

However, despite this battle of scripted dramas, Hungary hasn’t given up on reality quite yet.

Another addition to RTL Klub’s primetime lineup is the homegrown scripted reality series “Troublemakers,” about a group of young people who fire up an old bus, hit the road and spend the summer traveling across Hungary looking for adventure, love and profit.

RTL Klub, TV2 and state broadcaster MTV continue to bolster their schedule with blockbuster Hollywood movies, plus Hungary’s plethora of cable networks could compensate for any cautiousness exhibited by TV2 at Mipcom.

“Hungarian cable is a huge market,” says Cecilia Hazai, director of the TV distribution company Twin Media. “There are four children’s channels alone.”

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