Budapest court rules that HirTV must be returned to cable TV package

January 25, 2017

As we reported earlier, cable television service provider PR Telecom removed news channel HirTV from its programming on January 1 in a unilateral breach of contract with the channel. Upon being informed of PR Telecom’s decision in December, HirTV immediately brought the matter to court.

Now a Budapest judge has ruled that PR Telecom must immediately reintroduce HirTV into its service package. The court argued that PR Telecom’s decision posed a “real threat of damage” to HirTV, as it would prohibit a large portion of its viewers from accessing the programming of the country’s first all-news channel which could not be remedied by a subsequent court ruling.

HirTV’s contract provided for its broadcasting with the service provider until the end of 2017, but PR Telecom announced in December that it would terminate its deal with the channel and begin offering 6 new channels instead, all owned by media and casino mogul Andy Vajna, plus 2 porn channels. PR Telecom’s programming reaches 70,000 viewers in 170 settlements in Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, Veszprém and Vas counties. Citing “vis major” (an unpreventable event which may exempt a party from fulfilling the obligations of a contract), the service provider announced its decision to HirTV and its subscribers “at the last minute,” prompting the lawsuit. PR Telecom has reportedly received HUF 3.5 billion (USD 12.1 million) in financial support under the Orbán government.