Comm’l TV champing at the bit in Hungary

BUDAPEST — Full-fledged commercial TV may be just around the corner in Hungary — if the political and legislative imbroglio that has kept the broadcast sector hamstrung since 1989 finally comes to an end.

Execs at the long-suffering TV Channel 3, a Budapest regional station with a license but no frequency to broadcast, has yet to receive word as to when a frequency will be allocated.

“The government is quite reluctant to tell anybody anything,” said a network representative. “Right now they won’t even tell us the decisions they’ve already made. They haven’t even said no (to our request for a frequency).”

Up until now, Hungary’s private TV and radio industry has been stymied by a ban, imposed by parliament in 1989, on the issuance of broadcast licenses.

Parliament has vowed not to lift this nationwide ban until the government formulates acceptable post-communist legislation regulating the nation’s electronic media sector — something Hungary’s ruling coalition has yet to do after fouryears in power.

Parliament did agree last year to partially lift this moratorium and permit the establishment of private radio and TV stations in local and regional markets. It was during this period that Channel 3 received official sanction to begin broadcasting in Budapest.

Analysts report that the new station wants the frequency formerly occupied by Hungary’s now-defunct Russian-language web. But those hopes were diminished last week when a top exec for Hungarian state television announced plans to use that air space for a third state channel.

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