NMHH Media Council: Repeated surreptitious advertising on two regional TV stations

Published: 11 January 2018

At its weekly session, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority imposed sanctions on two regional commercial television stations, Balaton Televízió and d1 TV, for repeatedly broadcasting surreptitious advertising. In addition, the Council extended the licence of Aktív Rádió in Karcag, decided to conclude a provisional public contract with Helikon Rádió and authorised LB Rádió Kft. to postpone the launch of its media services in the Hajdúság region.

Media supervisory fines

As a result of a targeted assessment of health infotainment TV programmes, the Media Council imposed fines to the amount of HUF 155,000 on the broadcaster of d1 TV, Domino Tv Műsorszolgáltató Zrt., due broadcasting surreptitious advertising a total of 31 times as one of its infotainment programmes featured the presenter/editor repeatedly recommending products made by his company and its contact details appearing on screen, while another programme had the phone numbers and website addresses of guest experts displayed.

One of the infotainment programmes on Balaton Televízió that aired in October featured a delicatessen unlawfully promoting its products, which prompted the Council to issue a warning to the media service provider to ensure its lawful operation and refrain from further infringements. In addition, the TV station received a HUF 90,000 fine for surreptitious advertising in sponsor messages and airing a commercial break without a lead-in after a car programme, also as surreptitious advertising.

The Media Council closed the official proceedings initiated against radios concerning the fulfilment of programming quotas in 2016. Due to infringements, the Council imposed fines on six regional, one local and two small-community radios in total in amounts between HUF 83,500 and 12,000. When differentiating between the fines, the Council considered the number of categories concerned by the infringement, the extent of deviation from commitments and whether the Council imposed any fines or other sanctions on the service provider in the past three years.

Decisions related to local radios

The Media Council extended the media service licence of local Aktív Rádió for the Karcag 93.8 MHz frequency until 29 March 2023. Conversely, the Council did not renew the licence of Mária Rádió Völgyhíd, a radio with local coverage operated by FM4 Rádió Kft., for the Veszprém 95.1 MHz frequency as the Media Council had previously found this radio station to have repeatedly violated the provisions of the Media Act, which is a legal barrier to the extension of the licence. The terminated the public contract if Code FM, a small-community radio operating on the Miskolc-Avas 88.7 MHz frequency, by mutual agreement at the request submitted by its operator, media service provider Gyula Kalló.

At the request of Helikon Rádió, the Council decided to conclude a provisional public contract with the media service provider on the use of local frequencies Keszthely 99.4 MHz and Nagykanizsa 95.6 MHz for the period between 13th January and 14th March, with a view to the fact that the new tender processes concerning these frequencies are yet to conclude. The Authority authorised LB Rádió Kft. to launch its media service on local frequencies Hajdúböszörmény 98.9 MHz, Hajdúnánás 93.3 MHz and Hajdúszoboszló 100.6 MHz with a one-month delay, by 1st February at the latest. The practice of authorising a delay in launching a media service was originally developed by the Media Council’s predecessor the Hungarian National Radio and Television Commission (ORTT) and has been applied by the Council ever since, provided that requests are submitted within the on time and with proper reasoning. Since 2011, the Council has made decisions in 36 similar cases, the most recent one being that of Mária Rádió Savaria on the Szombathely 88.4 MHz frequency last August. However, the duration of the licence starts upon the conclusion of the public contract, rather than the launch of the service, and winning service providers are required to pay the media service fee from the conclusion of the contract.