Hungary is currently undergoing important changes to its TV industry.
Just this week we saw the regulator NMHH announce that it will shortly organise a tender for a national DTT network. Antenna Hungária has operated the current network, which includes one of the region’s most successful pay-DTT services, since 2008 and its licence will expire in late 2020.
The regulator has taken the decision to set in motion the tender process a full 18 months ahead of the start of the new 12-year contract it will award. This, it says, is to ensure as little disruption as possible, both to the industry and to consumers.
Although Antenna Hungária is likely to win the tender and continue as the country’s DTT operator, it will do so against the backdrop of a market that is changing rapidly.
In the DTH sector, M7 Group announced late last year that it had agreed to buy Liberty Global’s DTH operations in Central and Eastern Europe. These include UPC Direct in Hungary, and the Luxembourg-based group will no doubt go on to create a region-wide operation integrated with its current Skylink services in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Liberty Global is also in the process of selling its cable business in Hungary, along with those in the Czech Republic, Romania and Germany, to Vodafone. The deal is expected to close shortly and will signal a major shift in Hungary’s electronic communications marketplace, which has recently also seen Romanian-owned Digi Communications strengthen its presence by acquiring Invitel, the leading alternative telco.
Meanwhile, the Czech-owned PPF Group entered the Hungarian market last year by acquiring Telenor’s assets. The deal, which also included Telenor companies in Bulgaria, Montenegro and Serbia, was worth a total of €2.8 billion.
With Deutsche Telekom in the process of reorganising its interests in Central and Eastern Europe, though still maintaining its commitment to Hungary, and possible question marks over the future ownership of RTL Klub, these are indeed interesting times for Hungary’s TV industry.