Hungary media watchdog slaps huge fine on RTL Klub

September 25, 2014


The Media Council has fined independent television channel RTL Klub nearly HUF 40 million (USD 174,000) for “inaccurate representation of drug consumption” on documentary/reality show Éjjel-Nappal Budapest (Budapest Day and Night).

The programme depicted one woman’s descent into drug addiction, from the first purchase to the final conclusion. The character experienced intense psychotic episodes, moral degradation, damaged relationships, physical exhaustion and loss of consciousness.

According to the Media Council these were all presented to viewers without any counterpoints or interpretative framework. The show gave no critique of or commentary on the buying, consumption and dealing of drugs, the watchdog said, adding that it had received 52 viewers’ complaints about the show.

The Media Council’s bulletin emphasized that regulations do not ban the broadcasting of such content, but it should only have taken place after 9pm with an appropriate age rating. The law demands media to have regard for potential members of the audience who cannot yet properly and correctly evaluate and interpret such content. Therefore, it was fining the channel HUF 39.4 million.

The watchdog will also take the channel to court for alleged failure of data provision, incorrect age rating and unlawful product placement. It said RTL had misclassified six episodes as “not recommended for viewers under 12”, rather than “not recommended for viewers under 16”. The authority monitors age ratings used by television channels. It has fined RTL 11 times for similar violations since 2011.

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