National commercial radio broadcasting licence to expire and preparations for a new call for tenders
The Media Council called on the office of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMIA) to develop a new national commercial radio broadcast frequency plan as the fixed-term licence of national commercial radio station Class FM will expire this November after 7 years. According to the Media Act the licence can be granted for up to 7 years with the possibility of renewal for 5 years upon request. Acting as the body responsible for the efficient and reliable management of the set of frequencies available for media services entrusted to it, the Media Council has the duty and right to decide how radio frequencies are utilised. This is to ensure that changing market conditions, broadcasting practices and technological progress are taken into account in frequency management. In each case when a licence expires, the Council examines the value and composition of the set of frequencies.
An exceptional case of frequency utilisation is when the previous provider is granted the right of use for an additional period. In accordance with the applicable legal provisions, Class FM’s service provider submitted its request for a new contract for the expiring licence in time. Within the scope of exercising its ownership rights, when renewing media service licences the Media Council may decide at its own discretion whether to exercise its right of disposal, i.e. utilise the media service option, or not, and if it does, whether to undertake a tender process or renew the previous media service licence. According to the relevant legislation, the Media Council may consider the request within the powers conferred to it by law and in this particular case it did not accommodate the request.
Parallel to this decision, the Media Council also organized the development of a new tender plan: by the end of the year, a new service with an extended coverage will be available to tenderers, thereby leaving the door open for Class FM’s provider to continue its radio broadcasting activity should its tender be successful. The Media Council called on the Office to explore options to expand the broadcasting network in currently unserviced areas in order to provide access to a national radio station and ICT resources for tens of thousands of Hungarian citizens.
The development of the frequency plan and the draft call for tenders is expected to conclude within a few weeks; the Authority will provide information on the publication site on its website and in a notification. Interested parties will have weeks to submit their opinions regarding both documents. The drafts will be finalised by the Media Council within 45 days from the last day of public display, also indicating the deadline for submitting tenders.
Preliminary consent from the competent authority in the case of Mediaworks and Pannon Lapok Társasága
At its Monday meeting, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority’s Media Council accommodated the request for the competent authority’s preliminary consent to Mediaworks Hungary Zrt. acquiring sole control over Pannon Lapok Társasága Kiadói Kft. The final decision in this matter rests with the Hungarian Competition Authority (HCA). With regard to procedures of the Hungarian Competition Authority for authorising mergers between companies, the Media Council is responsible for conducting a procedure as the competent authority to ensure that mergers between companies on the media market do not cause a situation where one operator gains a dominant position which could lead to downgraded content offering. It is within the remit of the HCA to decide whether mergers can be authorised.
New radio station in Gyula, the evaluation of tenders for small-community radio stations is also underway, notices issued for failure to submit annual reports
In the “Gyula 90.5 MHz” call for tenders for local radio broadcasting, the Media Council decided to award the rights of use for the currently unutilised frequency to the only tenderer, Telekom Békés Kft., for its service planned under the name “Mega Rádió Gyula“. Responding to the “Velence Meleg-hegy 90.4 MHz” call for tenders for local frequency, Fehérvár Rádió Kft.’s tender was deemed formally invalid due to the failure to pay an outstanding media service fee and since this was the only tender submitted, the Media Council established that the call for tenders as a whole was unsuccessful. When reviewing the content of the only tender submitted in response to the “Kisvárda 93.4 MHz” call for tenders for local radio frequency the Media Council called on the tenderer to remedy the deficiencies. When reviewing the formal requirements of the tenders submitted for the conceptual utilisation of small-community radio media service options the Council also called upon every tenderer to remedy the deficiencies.
The Media Council warned 15 radio stations and 3 TV channels and imposed a smaller fine on 5 radio stations and 6 TV channels due to their delay or complete failure in submitting the annual report required from a specific set of media service providers.