Hungarian channels seek recession relief

By Gyorgy Karpati
    Hungary's two leading commercial TV channel are still hoping for a reduction of their yearly broadcasting concession fee.

    RTL Klub (www.rtlklub.hu) and TV2 (www.tv2.hu) have been trying to reach the reduction agreement since December because of the economic crisis, which has been hitting income from TV advertising. The National Radio and Television Commission (ORTT, www.ortt.hu) has refused all the petitions so far, but the Board of ORTT has two more sessions before the payment deadline on May 30.

    Though the two giants are complaining about the fall of their income this year, both had a record profits in 2008. RTL Klub's 2008 net income was €125 million, 8% higher than in 2007. The TV channel's before tax profit was almost €23 million, a 16% rising over 2007, keeping RTL Klub in the leading position among TV channels in Hungary.

    Second place TV2 had €93.4 million income in 2008, a 1.3% increase over 2007. TV2 did not make its rate of profit public because of the policy of the channel's owner ProSiebenSat1 Group.

    The two TV channels should each pay an estimated €6.3-6.6 million yearly concession fee according to their contracts. The TV channels are trying to halve the amount or at least to reduce the fee. ORTT is not only considering the request but is also thinking of a new calculation system which would be based on the profits of the TV channels.