Hungary: Buyers seeking movies, series

Mip Territory Reports

BUDAPEST — With some Hungarian cablers preparing for digital expansion and others experimenting with state-of-the-art video-on-demand delivery systems, Hungarian buyers at Mip will be looking for topflight movies and series for subscribers.

According to Cecilia Hazai, managing director of Budapest-based Twin Media, Eastern buyers are simply relieved “that the writers strike is over and that the L.A. marketplace has returned to normal.”

The usual standard fare of U.S. films and sitcoms aside, Hazai says she and other Hungarian distributors are interested in quality documentaries.

“Documentaries of all kind, from nature to history, are very popular with my clients right now and selling extremely well,” she notes.

Documentary filmmaking is a forte of the region. HBO Central Europe is now producing upward of 120 documentaries a year for local scheduling and export to the West. Central European buyers hungry for documentaries may ultimately be buying from Central European sellers.

HBO Central Europe CEO Linda Jensen says her networks are focusing on documentary production because audiences may be tiring of the scripted reality format and are yearning for “reality that is real.”

This enthusiasm for documentaries may also be feeding an interest in scripted historical programming. Hazai reports that costume dramas are popular in Hungary, both for distribution on television and DVD, and HBO’s Jensen has said that historical dramas like “The Tudors” are fashionable on her network.

Hungary’s public broadcaster, Magyar Televizio (MTV), and the nation’s two terrestrial networks, SBS-controlled TV2 and RTL Media-controlled RTL Klub, also may well be interested in adding more history and costumes to their lineup. The latter two are locked in a programming battle, with RTL Klub assuming an edge in foreign programs like “Lost,” Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Doc” and German series “Cobra 11.”

Hungary is now in negotiations with the European Commission over subsidies to its film production industry. With the outcome of those talks uncertain, Hungarian buyers may be looking to increase their stock of Euro-made series and movies to meet EU requirements.

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