FNE at DISCOP Budapest 2011: Hungarian State TV Grows Competitive Edge

By Cathy Meils

    BUDAPEST: Lidia Marton, director of international relations for the new Hungarian broadcasting umbrella organization MTVA (Broadcast Support and Asset Management Fund, www.mtva.hu) told a packed pre-DISCOP audience, "We hope to become more competitive on the international market."

    She was speaking of the reasoning behind the merger of the Hungarian state TV station with public radio, print and online services, into the new MTVA centralized structure.

    "Hungary is a small market, and these companies are very small," she said, but a united front would allow the state media to produce higher quality programming with the same budget, making it a more attractive partner for coproductions and sales. "This new entity, MTVA, was born in the midst of a world crisis," Marton said. "The objective of this integration is it makes us think cross media." Of the original employees (which include those in four TV stations), 90% saw their jobs transferred to the new structure, retaining over 3,000 employees.

    The new name also inspired a wry comment from Marton. "Whereas in the past we were confused with the music channel MTV, now that's impossible," she quipped.

    The event, which included a tour of MTVA's new facilities and impressive archives, was introduced by DISCOP (www.discop.com) founder Patrick Jucaud, who said, "MTVA has a great library. It's a huge treasure." MTVA is well into the process of digitalizing some 50 years of archives.

    Hungarian TV might also get a boost from the newly created Hungarian Film Fund. The fund's director Agnes Havas said the fund will put funds into coproducing TV series, movies and documentaries. Havas added, "Hungarian cinema would at this point die without coproductions." She said she expected to two or three Hungarian films to go into production in 2011 (after a hiatus of more than a year without state funds), and the first grants to be announced this summer.