Magyars contemplate reality

International success tempts b'casters

BUDAPEST – The reality TV revolution that has made “Survivor” and “Big Brother” hits in the U.S. and West Euro markets has yet to appear on the Hungarian remote control.

But Hungary may soon be getting its own dose of reality. SBS-owned station TV2 tested the waters last season with the show “Tegla” (Brick).

“Tegla’s” conditional success has emboldened TV2 and its main competition, CLT/Ufa’s RTL Klub, to bring more reality to the Magyar remote control next year.

“Right now reality programs do not exist on Hungarian TV,” says RTL Klub acquisitions director Zsuzsanna Jung. “Due to their international success, we’ll be thinking about this concept: whether to place it and how to place it on Hungarian TV.”

Despite the cautious tone, both RTL Klub and TV2 are doing more than thinking. RTL Klub is developing a reality series called “Fortress.” TV2, which recently hired away key RTL Klub producers, has assigned the newcomers the job of developing one or more reality skeins.

But if the popular reality formats have failed to take root, other hot foreign imports are excelling over the Magyar airwaves.

RTL Klub’s licensed Hungarian version of “Millionaire” is one of its highest-rated programs. It is so successful TV2 aired its own modified version of the gameshow.

Local versions of winning reality programs could well prosper here simply because Hungarian viewers are showing a preference for inhouse productions that feature local talent and issues.

Although top-rated American sitcoms and dramas are available in the Hungarian market, RTL Klub execs describe Magyar-made variety shows (starring local celebrities) and video programs (a goulash version of candid camera) as power blocks in their weekly schedules.

Hungarian buyers will certainly be shopping for hot foreign product at Mipcom. Daytime soaps and telenovelas are expected to be in demand along with action dramas (for weekend viewing), and good movies are always welcome. The only shows to surpass hits like “Millionaire” in the ratings races in Hungary are movies.

“Hungary has a long cinematic tradition,” says Cecilia Hazai, owner of the TV distrib company Twin Media. “Movies, especially blockbusters, are always in demand here. No matter what.”

More niche channels also mean Hungarians will be searching for children, music, historical and science programming at this and other markets.

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