Fact or fiction? Teen viewers of Budapest Night&Day are confused

NMHH-survey of teens following a docu-reality television series

Published: 28 September 2015


They consider the characters’ lifestyle unrealistic. Nonetheless, the survey’s teen respondents are confused whether the values portrayed and the characters presented in RTL’s Budapest Night&Day docu-reality show are fact or fiction due to the nature of the genre – concluded a survey commissioned by the Hungarian National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH).

Conducted in June 2015, this qualitative survey comprised six focus groups. The project explored the opinion and motivations of these focus groups of young people aged 14–17 from Budapest, Győr, Öttevény, and Miskolc regarding the TV series Budapest Night&Day (original Hungarian title: Éjjel-nappal Budapest). The survey found that what most appealed to the surveyed teens is the show’s entertainment value, and its showcasing of myriad life situations typical for youngsters. It is noteworthy that Budapest survey participants refer to the show as “Night&Day,” those in the countryside as “Budapest.” For the latter, the series amplifies a yearning to move to the capital city, while it appeals to the Budapest crowd that series episodes take place at venues they are quite familiar with. Survey respondents reported that the show is much discussed, with many watching it simply because they wish to be and remain in the loop.

The majority of parents either dislike or are neutral about the series. In Miskolc and vicinity, however, some parents themselves specifically recommended this show for viewing to their children. Boys participating in the survey kept their distance more from the programme than girls, albeit both sexes agreed the male characters of the series are more complex, more interesting than their female counterparts. The teens typically appraised the show’s ins and outs with common sense and responsibly. The survey respondent girls more often than the boys identified with the show’s characters to a greater degree, which could have a detrimental effect on their fledgling self-image and people skills.

The survey findings spotlighted the importance of boosting media awareness. The majority of survey respondents were confused as to the programme’s genre. Although, generally speaking, they deem the way of life depicted in the story unrealistic, for some it is expressly challenging to distinguish this series from reality shows. Further compounding this confusion is that the players post on Facebook under the profile of their character.

Ten to twelve year-olds are also reportedly regular viewers, and they are even more confused as to what exactly is going on. Many of the survey’s teen respondents said of their own accord that they would give Night&Day Budapest a “not recommended for children under 14” classification (not currently an option, since the “not recommended for children under 12” classification is followed by the “not recommended for children under 16” rating).

From its earliest days, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority’s remit has extended beyond media regulation. The Authority has also been actively involved in Hungarian children’s media literacy education via numerous projects and initiatives. In September 2015, the NMHH published a downloadable educational package comprising eight reference books and a three-part educational workbook. This educational package – hard copies of which the Authority also provides to schools – aims primarily to assist media literacy educators. However, media experts, researchers and, obviously, parents will likewise find it useful. Inaugurated a year-and-a-half ago, the Magic Valley Media Literacy Education Centre provides playful, hands-on workshops to youngsters aged 9–16 to teach them media awareness and literacy. Under the NMHH Corporate Social Responsibility remit, the Authority also helps disadvantaged children develop media awareness: to date, Authority staff have already worked with disadvantaged children at four S.O.S. Children’s Villages in playful, engaging media literacy workshops. The NMHH also operates an Internet Hotline service, via which Internet content detrimental to children can be reported. Functioning as advisory body to the Authority President, the Child Protection Internet Roundtable assists responsible parents with filtering software recommendations, available for download at the NMHH website at gyermekbarat.nmhh.hu. Likewise accessible here is the instruction manual for the parental lock for television screens. It is important to be aware that parents’ attention, example setting, and serious conversations with their children will have a multiplier effect on child protection-related Authority efforts. Again, the family who pays attention to its members is the best filter, the most effective means of child protection.

The full text of the survey summary of teen viewers of Budapest Day&Night – interspersed with typical teen banter and quotes – is available on the www.nmhh.hu website.

12 typical quotes from survey respondents:

1. “Mum watched it for me first (...) afterwards she said it’s okay, I can start watching it. And so I started watching it and I really like it” – a boy from Miskolc.
2. “I’m 17, and my parents don’t allow me to watch it, either. They really hate this series, makes no difference that I’m 17... They tell me, too, not to watch it, but sometimes I still do” – a Budapest girl.
3. “It reflects people’s everyday lives, the whole thing is true to life... I don’t think it’s pretence – a girl from Győr.
4. “Presents Budapest life, I’ve always wanted to live in Budapest....” – girl from a Miskolc area village.
5. “I cannot identify anything in it that has actually happened to me in real life, or anything I’d consider possible in real life” – a boy from Öttevény.
6. “Sometimes the thought arose in me if this is what girls truly become after moving to Budapest? I should hope not!” – a girl from a Miskolc area village.
7. “If I were a parent and my child watched this (...), I’d be sad. I’d worry (...) my child should not be like this” – Budapest boy.
8. “I think it’s pretty average for everyone in their age group to be partying, for as long as they can, until they start having kids. This is what they’re like, they will party to the max while they still can” – Miskolc area girl.
9. “I wouldn’t like to find myself in this kind of situation, I mean that I’d have to take care of my girl friend or someone I love because they’re incapable of looking after themselves, in which case I bear all the responsibility. I wouldn’t like to be under this kind of pressure. And so it makes me rather averse to this type of thing” – Budapest boy.
10. “I don’t usually go to parties, I seldom do. But the show often makes me feel like wanting to, I mean if I watch it on a Friday night, and, say, I see them partying, then I start to think that I ought to go out after the football game tomorrow...” – a boy from Miskolc.
11. “I’d be curious if they really shoot themselves up, take something for the shoot, there’s a difference between pretending or actually doing it...” – Budapest girl.
12. “Good fun, but not a regular lifestyle, not something that lasts...they will not get far with this in my opinion” – girl from Győr.