Possible unfair commercial practice related to Ékszer TV

Published: 22 April 2020

According to the decision made at its meeting this week, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) has forwarded the conclusions of its inspection on the programme Ékszer TV of Magyar ATV to the Hungarian Competition Authority. The Council has concluded its supervisory proceedings of the data disclosure obligations of media service providers with quota obligations.

The Media Council forwarded the results of its inspection on Ékszer TV to the Hungarian Competition Authority

The Media Council received eleven citizen complaints regarding the broadcasts of the programme Ékszer TV aired on Magyar ATV between 12 March and 1 April. The reporting parties objected to the fact that the programme aired three times a day promoted dietary supplements and hygiene products by referring to the coronavirus epidemic; furthermore, they objected to the high price of hand sanitizer gel. The Council established that although the examined broadcasts themselves violated no media governance rules, they still raised the issue of a violation of the act on unfair commercial practices towards consumers—as the promotion of their products was often combined with information related to the state of danger due to the coronavirus pandemic and furthermore, the items were presented as indispensable products. In the broadcasts, the presenters stressed on numerous occasions that the use of dietary supplements can even save lives. As the Authority has no jurisdiction in adjudicating such reports, it has forwarded the results of its examination to the Hungarian Competition Authority to take proceedings in the case, which has already been conducting competition supervision proceedings on the programme’s producer since 14 April.

Moreover, the Media Council stresses that although conducting official proceedings is not possible due to the Authority’s lack of jurisdiction, it is examining the possibility of providing solutions for managing complaints and problems of such nature in the future.

Media supervisory and radio frequency-related decisions

The Media Council has adopted the draft call for tender for the community use of the Mezőkövesd 102.1 MHz local frequency. Additionally, the Council has performed the formal assessments in the tendering procedures for the community use of the local Siklós 88.6 MHz, Szigetvár 98.9 MHz, Nagykanizsa 100.7 MHz, as well as the regional Kecskemét 97.7 MHz and Miskolc 96.3 MHz radio frequencies. In relation to the tenders for the Sopron, Szigetvár and Nagykanizsa frequencies, the Authority has registered Karc FM Kft.—as the sole bidder in the first two cases—while calling on Katolikus Rádió Zrt. to submit missing information in the latter case. The Council registered Mária Rádió Kft. in the tendering procedure for the frequency in Kecskemét along with Radio Plus Kft. for that of Miskolc.

The Media Council initiated proceedings in relation to the data disclosure obligations necessary for supervising concluded programme quotas: from the range of media service providers offering downloadable and linear services, the Authority issued warning in nine cases in each category and imposed fines ranging from several thousand to tens of thousands of forints in eighteen cases.

The Media Council imposed a fine of HUF 30 thousand on the operator of Pont Rádió of Mezőtúr for airing less spoken word content, Hungarian music and public service broadcasts and programmes dealing with and assisting local public and everyday life and more advertisements than stipulated in its contractual commitments. The ratio of public service broadcasts failed to reach the statutory minimum. Additionally, the Council issued a warning to the operator for airing surreptitious advertising on twelve occasions in its programme Reggeli Expresszó in a programming week in late January/early February by providing the address and contact information—website and telephone number—of a local restaurant and business.

When imposing a fine, the Media Council always determines the form and extent of the sanctions with due consideration to all the circumstances of the specific case and employing the principles of progressiveness and proportionality.