Government changes order of television channels

July 2, 2015


In December 2014 legislation was adopted which modified Hungary’s media law. The changes came into effect on July 1st. This law allowed Hungary’s media authority to modify the order in which channels appeared on the televisions of Hungarian viewers.

Ágnes Urbán, chair of the Infocommunications Department at the Corvinus University of Budapest and expert on media economics media and audience research, tells the Beacon that the only rational explanation for the change is that the government wanted to rearrange the channels in a manner that put Hungary’s state-run television broadcasters “at the top of the dial”, that is, among the first television channels, 1 through 9.

Urbán says the change equally applies to all forms of television transmission, which means people using a digital antenna and those using cable will also feel the changes.

By putting the state-run broadcasters in the top “prime” channels listings, the government essentially takes advantage of the fact that older, non-tech savvy viewers will primarily stick to the first 9 channels that appear on television. This provides the state-run media with a stronger market position, and presumably better advertising revenues.

It is possible, however, for someone to reprogram their television to list favorite channels in any particular order, but the method of doing so depends on factors such as which service provider they use. Older television viewers are less likely to try reprogramming their televisions.

Urbán says the impact of the channel changes will not be known until at least early October when Nielsen, a media ratings and research company, releases its quarterly ratings report for Hungarian broadcasters. The third-quarterly rating will include data for July through September.