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BUDAPEST — Commercial TV is here to stay in Croatia after RTL Media-controlled net RTL Television Croatia began broadcasting in this former-Yugoslav territory on April 30, and immediately became the most-watched national net.

According to peoplemeter research by AGB Plus, RTL Croatia earned an audience share of 39.1% on April 30 in the prized 19-to-49 demographic, a higher share than Croatia’s other three networks.

RTL Croatia continued its dominance on Saturday, May 1, its first full day of broadcasting, with a commanding 30.7% share of the audience. State broadcaster Croatia Radio Television nets HRT 1 and HRT 2 trailed with 26.3% and 20.1% respectively, and Nova TV earned a 11.6% slice of the viewership.

RTL Croatia’s competitive programming slate included “Godzilla” and the Olympia Dukakis vehicle “A Match Made in Heaven,” the talk show “Sanja” and the “Vijesti” news program. Nova TV, the first commercial broadcaster in Croatia launched in 1999, is trailing the upstart with a program roster that includes U.S. dramas and sitcoms “Ally McBeal” and “South Park.”

The fledgling RTL Croatia won a ten-year concession to establish a commercial terrestrial network with a reach of 98% in 2003.

RTL Croatia should have been broadcasting by the third week of February, but by then it had just finalized an agreement with the Department of Transmitters and Communications to go to air in this overly bureaucratic territory.

Although the appearance of commercial nets is a breakthrough in broadcast reform in Croatia, European watchdogs like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have criticized Croatian TV for being overly controlled by political interests.