According to the provisions of the Media Act based on EU law, in particular section 16 (2), the Media Council shall compile the list of events with major significance for society. The Media Council shall determine the manner of broadcasting the events included in the list, i.e. whether the event in question shall be fully or only partially broadcast through live or deferred coverage.
The Media Council established the list of the events with major significance for society at its session on 7 February 2017 and determined their manner of broadcasting.The list entered into effect on 4 July 2017, when it was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Based on the provisions of the Media Act, events of major significance for society may be events which attract a wide range of attention – therefore not merely amongst the audience of the given sport, activity – or have a widely known, unique cultural significance, particularly in reinforcing cultural identity. An additional provision is for the given event or international competition to feature a Hungarian competitor or team or for the event to be watched traditionally without paying a subscription fee.
The list consists of 8 groups of 17 sporting events, according to the following:
- events of the Summer Olympic Games with the participation of the Hungarian National Team or a Hungarian athlete are to be broadcast via full or partial live coverage, whilst events of the Winter Olympic Games featuring the Hungarian National Team or a Hungarian athlete are to be broadcast via full or partial deferred coverage;
- opening matches, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals of the International Football Association (hereinafter: FIFA) Men’s Football World Cup and of the Union of European Football Associations (hereinafter: UEFA) Men’s Football European Championship are to be broadcast via full live coverage;
- 3.matches of the Hungarian Men’s National Football Team (including those played at the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championship, as well as the qualifiers of said sporting events and official friendlies) are to be broadcast via full live coverage;
- the UEFA Champions League final, and the matches of the UEFA Champions League and of the Europa League featuring a Hungarian club team, with the exception of qualifiers, are to be broadcast via full live coverage, whereas qualifiers are to be broadcast via full deferred coverage;
- matches of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Men’s and Women’s Handball World Championship and of the European Handball Federation (EHF) Men’s and Women’s Handball European Championship featuring the Hungarian National Team are to be broadcast via full live coverage;
- matches of the Men’s and Women’s Handball EHF Champions League featuring Hungarian club teams are to be broadcast via full live coverage;
- events of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Men’s Water Polo World Championship and the European Swimming Association (LEN) Men’s Water Polo European Championship featuring the Hungarian National Team are to be broadcast via full live coverage;
the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix is to be broadcast via full live coverage.
In the case of all events, the Media Council decided on full live coverage, with the following exceptions:
- in the case of the Summer Olympic Games, only events with the participation of the Hungarian National Team or a Hungarian athlete are to be broadcast via full live coverage, whilst all other events will be broadcast partially live,
- in the case of the Winter Olympic Games, events with the participation of the Hungarian National Team or a Hungarian athlete will receive full deferred coverage, with partial deferred coverage for all other events,
- from the matches of the UEFA Champions Leagues and those of the Europe League featuring a Hungarian club team, the qualifiers will received full deferred coverage, whilst all other matches are to be broadcast via full live coverage.
The following factors were considered when compiling the list:
- the viewer ratings of the individual events (the authority examined the viewer ratings data from the period between 2005 and 2016),
- the popularity of the individual sports and their broadcasting traditions,
- whether the individual events are generally known and have unique cultural significance for the Hungarian population, for example, in reinforcing cultural identity,
- the possible future changes in the broad social interest of the event in question,
- the traditional success of the athletes and teams of the individual sports.
Based on the criteria laid down in the Act, the events of major significance for society may include both cultural and sporting events, however, based on the Media Council’s research, it can be established that as opposed to news on cultural events and those of other nature, sports news and sports broadcasts show the slightest correlation to age, school qualification, place of residence and number of people per household. Therefore, when defining events of major importance to society, the Media Council established—according to market research, available viewer ratings data and the professional views and comments expressed at and after the public hearing—that sporting events attract general interest on the broadest social scale, regardless of differences in demographics.
Possible discrepancies in broadcasting times
The media service provider holding exclusive broadcasting rights for an event of major importance to society may deviate from live broadcasting, provided that the starting time of an event of major importance (or a sports event organised as a part thereof) falls between 12:00 am and 06:00 am CET. In this case, the authorised media service provider shall commence broadcasting by 9:00 pm on the given calendar day at the latest. For events of major importance comprising several periods, the live broadcast does not include the natural intermissions between said periods.
If an event of major importance is comprised of several matches, games, sports programmes or events (or series of events) that overlap one another—due to which their full live, simultaneous broadcasting is not feasible—it is at the authorised media service provider’s discretion to decide which event of the series will be broadcast live and in full. The authorised media service provider is obliged to broadcast live and in full—if not impossible—the parts of the event which are of interest for Hungarians. The authorised media service provider may broadcast an event of the series which is not broadcast live in compliance with the rules pertaining to deferred coverage.
If the end of an event falls between 12:00 am and 07:00 pm CET, deferred coverage shall commence by 10:00 pm on the same calendar day at the latest. If the end falls between 7:00 pm and 12:00 pm CET, the subsequent broadcasting shall commence within eight hours at the latest from the end of the event. The authorised media service provider may deviate from the starting time of the deferred broadcasts—while observing the audience’s right to adequate information—whilst commencing the broadcast within twenty-four hours of the conclusion of the event at the latest.
Rights and obligations of the authorised media service provider
- Based on the regulations, if a media service provider gained the exclusive broadcast rights to an event included in the list which cannot be provided as a free service to more than 20 percent of the domestic audience, the media service provider in question is obliged to enter into a contract with an inquiring media service provider—which provides services without a subscription free of charge for at least 80 percent of the population. The contract must be concluded in a fair and reasonable manner. Should the parties fail to reach an agreement or fail to agree on the payable fees within fifteen days subsequent to an offer having been made, the parties may initiate dispute resolution proceedings as stipulated in articles 172 to 174 of the Media Act. The Media Council will pass a ruling in the procedure within 15 days, a deadline which may be extended by an additional 15 days when justified.
- In relation to the access to events of major significance, the Act also stipulates an obligation for providing so-called brief news for service providers with the exclusive rights to broadcasting an event of major significance. All providers of linear audiovisual media services established within the area of the European Union are authorized to access the brief news on the broadcast of the event of major significance. The access may take place by obtaining the signal of the media service, by filming at the location of the event or by receiving the footage recorded on the event. Should the parties fail to reach an agreement within fifteen days subsequent to an offer having been made, the parties may initiate dispute resolution proceedings as stipulated in articles 172 to 174 of the Media Act. The Media Council will pass a ruling in the procedure within 15 days, a deadline which may be extended by an additional 15 days when justified.
The restrictive measures of the Media Act may not be applied to lawfully acquired exclusive rights gained prior to the list entering into effect. Based on the above-listed considerations, previously concluded contracts are not affected by the list established by the Media Council. The Media Council may revise the contents of the list at any time in the future.