Budget Cuts Endanger Plans for Hungarian Public Televisions to Play Bigger Role in Film Production

By FNE Staff

    BUDAPEST: Plans for the newly restructured public television in Hungary to play a greater role in film and TV drama production have been endangered by government cuts to the new broadcasting fund. Already reeling from cuts to audiovisual funding in 2010 and 2011 Hungarian producers were encouraged by announcements that the public television would play a larger role in film and TV drama production than in the past.

    Public television in Hungary (M1, M2 and Duna Televízió (www.mtv.hu, www.dunatv.hu) have undergone a major restructuring as part of the government's new broadcasting fund set up at the end of 2010 under the supervision of the Media Council of the National Media and Communications Authority (www.mediatanacs.hu). Almost all of the employees of public television in Hungary now work for the new fund, which is tasked with producing all the content for the public television networks as well as for the Hungarian Radio (www.radio.hu). The Hungarian parliament has allotted about 230 million EUR in the 2011 budget to the fund although no details of how the new structure will actually function have been announced yet.

    Public television plans to launch a new programming structure in September 2011 and Lóránd Poich, the newly appointed content director of the fund, said that public television would play a bigger role in feature film production than in the past as well. Unlike most European countries where public television is a major player in feature film production Hungarian public television has had very little involvement in the sector. Despite government directives which should make public television an important producer and coproducer in Hungary weak legislation has meant directives were fulfilled with content such as game shows and reality TV.

    However, on 24 February 2011 the government decided to block about 20 million EUR from the budget of the fund, as part of their plan to create a reserve fund for Hungary to protect the country from unforeseen economic events. After this budget cut the management of the fund said that the launch of production of new programs and films might be delayed until January 2012.

    Lóránd Poich was the programming director of private television channel TV2 (www.tv2.hu) until 2008 and since 2009 he has been the managing director of the independent distribution company Budapest Film (http://portal.budapestfilm.hu).