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Freedom revs Magyar engines

Hungary

All Magyar programming execs agree: The catchword in Hungarian TV is growth.

Cable is one example. Earlier this year, parliament bent to pressure from the European Union and repealed regulations in its media law that limited the reach of cable broadcasters.

Now, Hungarian cablers can expand as far as their infrastructure and subscription base allow. With one or two high-rated cable nets within striking distance of commercial terrestrial heavyweight webs RTL Klub and SBS-controlled TV2, sellers at Mipcom may find more than a few Magyar cable nets yearning for sexy competitive product in this new environment.

Programmers state that American series are still hot among Hungarian viewers. According to Peter Kolosi, programming director of RTL Klub, his network has just released new seasons of “Prison Break” and “Criminal Minds” to solid ratings results. RTL also expects to put forth another season of stalwart “ER” and the third season of “Lost.”

Formats are also winners. RTL Klub is pinning its hopes this season on the release of “A Star Is Born,” based on a classic Hungarian TV series from the late 1960s to the 1980s that showcased amateur talent — but not just singers.

“This is an all-genre show,” Kolosi says. “It will have dancers, singers (from opera to pop), magicians, all kinds of talent.”

RTL Klub’s investment in “Star” may inspire Hungarian buyers to look for other talent-hunting formats at Mipcom. In fact, with reality, gameshows and films still performing well enough, Magyar buyers will seek all three genres. Due to EU quotas, Euro-made programming of all types will be popular.

Buyers may be unafraid of bold and risque content after Hungarian courts abolished the ability of regulator ORTT, beginning in 2008, to levy fines against broadcasters. This situation will be readdressed if lawmakers pass a new broadcast media law before 2007 ends.

But for the present, as Hungarian cablers expand and the industry gears up for digital turnover as early as 2012, the potential for the Magyar TV industry appears unlimited.

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