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Cabler decries extended licenses

World Brief

BUDAPEST — Decision by Hungary’s broadcast authority ORTT to extend the broadcast licenses for the territory’s two private terrestrial networks, RTL Klub and TV2, has drawn criticism from cabler Viasat, whose chief exec expressed interest in bidding for a national frequency.

Viasat CEO Attila Kocsis says his cable network would have competed for a national frequency had Hungary’s two commercial frequencies been put on the auction block, as they were in 1997. Back then, RTL Media won control of what is now RTL Klub, and SBS controls TV2. They beat competitors such as U.S.-controlled regional broadcast player Central European Media Enterprises in Hungary’s first frequency tender process.

At that time, both networks won 10-year licenses to operate in Hungary, and those were extended by ORTT last week for another five years. Kocsis argues that will keep up-and-coming broadcasters like Viasat out of terrestrial TV in Hungary for at least another five years. Viasat is owned by Stockholm-based Modern Times Group.

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