Antenna Hungaria wins 12-year digital licences

By Laszlo Kriston

    Hungary's National Communications Authority (NHH, www.nhh.hu) awarded a 12-year digital (terrestrial) broadcasting licence to French-owned Antenna Hungaria Rt. (AH, www.ahrt.hu), NHH announced on July 25.

    AH pays €1.5 million (HUF360 million) for the TV licence, plus 3 % of its annual revenue each year, and must launch digital television broadcast by the end of this year, completing the nation-wide switchover by 2012. The other contestant for the tender was Slovakia's TRI R Consortium through its Hungarian company Digital Broadcasting Kft.

    1 million households (20-25 % of all households) access television on analogue transmission currently.

    Antenna Hungaria also won a radio broadcast licence beating out the Hungarian State Radio (MR).

    The Authority, presided by Daniel Pataki, officially acknowledged that all other contestants offered larger bids for the licences than AH (€1.7 million + 3 %, for the TV license). The two licences were eventually granted to AH only after political brokering, following a Parliamentary veto that was later reversed.

    AH reportedly offered a lower monthly subscription fee than its competitors (€2.60). The D-package will consist of state broadcasters mtv (www.mtv.hu), m2, Duna TV (www.dunatv.hu) as well as ATV, Hír TV, Viasat 3, and Humor1. It is unknown whether leading commercial channels TV2 (http://tv2.hu) and RTL Klub (www.rtlklub.hu) will demand a premium price.

    Founded in 1925, Antenna Hungaria was a state-owned entity for decades until it was sold to Swisscomm. France's TDF SA (www.tdf.fr) bought 100% of Antenna Hungaria for €331 million (CHF540 million) in May 2007.