International broadcasters line up for Hungarian licenses

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BUDAPEST -- The Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission says it will publish tenders for two commercial TV channels and two commercial radio stations in early December.

MTV2, one of two state-owned stations, will be operated by private interests in a 10-year concession, as will a channel formerly used by the Soviet army. The two radio stations are the popular Radio Danubius and a new frequency.

The new stations can begin broadcasting on September 1 1997. Each bid for a TV license requires a $50m fee, and each consortium must have at least three members, of which no company can have more than 49% ownership, and at least 26% of the consortium must be owned by a Hungarian company. The new media law also dictates that at least 51% of programming must originate in Hungary and another 30% from other European nations.

Several international companies have expressed interest in the license, including Central European Media Enterprises (CME), led by Ronald Lauder and Mark Palmer, Germany's West Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung and Bertelsman Group, France's TF1, the Luxembourg-based CLT Multi Media, the German company WAZ, and a consortium including Hungary's MTM Communications and Scandinavian Broadcasting Systems.

Final tender documents are due in December, with the deadline for bids expected in March. The Austrian investment bank Creditanstalt Securities will manage sale of the TV concessions, while a subsidiary of Holland's ABN-Amro to manage the radio concession sales.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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