Magyar Televízió

Magyar Televízió
Magyar Televízió (MTV)
Type Television
Country Hungary
Availability National, International in neighbouring countries and
Motto First Hungarian Television
Slogan "Értéket közvetít"
(Transmitting Values)
Owner Government of Hungary
Key people Balász Medveczky, Director General
Launch date 1957
Official website The website (

Magyar Televízió (or Hungarian Television) is the Hungarian national public service television company, with three TV channels, called m1 (m1 HD), m2 (m2 HD) and m3.

Until July 2002, when the MSZP-SZDSZ government took over the payment of licence fees from members of the public, MTV was funded by the levying of a television licence on all households with a television set. As a result of the governments move, funding became dependent on from government grants and television commercials[1], greatly lessening the independence of MTV. MTV is a member of the EBU. Since 2011 MTV is more closely integrated with other publicly funded Hungarian media outlets such as Magyar Rádió and Duna Televízió.



The Early Years (1954-1969)

The first testcard of the Hungarian Television, from the 1950s

First pioneer transmissions were in Hotel Gellért in 1936. Test transmissions commenced in 1954, however these were generally with stills or short clips of motion pictures, merely for experimental purposes. Regular test transmissions could be received from February 23, 1957. Transmissions began officially on 1 May 1957, when the May Day ceremonies were brought to the viewers for the first time. Daily news programmes began on July 2, 1957. The television service began its career as part of Hungarian Radio, which was re-named to Hungarian Radio and Television on August 18, 1957. MTV suggested the establishment of an international organisation for exchanging television material, which was to be named Intervision. The first four members of the organisation were Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary and Poland.

By 1959, Hungarian Television had over 50,000 subscribers. In 1960, the Corporation decided to establish an archive, where its programmes are stored even today. In less than ten years of operation, MTV had some 2.7 million viewers by 1964. Studies showed that there were about 3-5 viewers per television set. Another study revealed that by 1965, 46% of the inhabitants of rural areas named television as their choice of entertainment, instead of reading (25%) or radio (10%).

Theatrical transmissions were popular at this time: in 1966 23 plays were broadcast from Budapest, 20 from other cities. Also, 25 television movies and five musicals were transmitted this year.

1969 brought the one millionth subscriber, which meant about 4 million viewers. The first colour recording was made this year: it was Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin. Although the Orion company presented its first colour television set, transmissions continued to be in black-and-white until 1971.

The 1970s

1971 brought the first regular transmission in colour, and the test transmissions of a second channel were begun as well. This decade was probably the most proliferous in the history of the whole company, with thousands of hours of programming made.

The 1980s

Annual programming time reached 4.300 hours, equalling to 83 hours a week. Teletext services commenced in 1981, called Képújság (Picture Newspaper), and television manufacturers started including teletext decoders in their sets. Long-running programmes were started in this decade, including Ablak (Window) and Panoráma (a foreign affairs programme). Regional programming began in 1984 in Pécs, and cable television began in Székesfehérvár the same year. RTV, a programme guide similar to BBC's Radio Times was bought by 1.4 million viewers weekly. MTV's gradual decline began in 1985, this was the final year when MTV was self-sufficient.

The first broadcast of a telenovela on Hungarian television happened in the mid-1980s with the premier of the Brazilian Escrava Isaura (Hungarian title: Rabszolgasors - "Slave Destiny" in English). The first Hungarian soap opera Szomszédok (Hungarian for "Neighbors") also started its 12-year-run in 7 May 1987 and was broadcasted every second Thursday.[2]

By the late 1980s, experimental digital television recordings were made, but at the time only in studios. From 1988 seniors of 70 years were exempted from payment of the licence fee. Minority programmes in other languages began too: these programmes were recorded generally in regional studios, primarily in Pécs and Szeged. The second programme of MTV was given some independence from the first, and just like at the BBC, they were given separate controllers.

By 1989 the service began broadcasting five days per week to prepare the seven days, as previously Monday only. Some exceptions were made from this practice, for example when the first Hungarian cosmonaut, Bertalan Farkas entered space. Nap-kelte (Daybreak), a daily television magazine programme began in 1989, the first programme to be made by an independent Hungarian television company, namely Nap-TV.

The 1990s

With the changeover from socialism, MTV was completely re-structured, some posts were abolished while others were created. Some programmes were axed from both channels, and new ones were started. This decade was a very hectic time in the life of the Company, as TV-presidents seemed to come and go, and so did the programmes.

MTV was admitted as a full active member of the European Broadcasting Union on January 1, 1993. In 1994, a new public service television station was started, and was named Duna TV. This was completely independent from MTV, although some collaboration exists between the two. Commercial channels became available to cable viewers in Budapest the same year.

In 1997, TV2, a commercial channel was to be launched on the frequency where m2 used to be. However, MTV argued that by doing this, its audience would be given to the new channel as a present, which would mean severe disadvantage to both MTV and RTL Klub, the other debutee commercial channel. The authorities decided to leave the frequency empty, and allocate a new frequency to TV2. m2, however, was still moved to satellite and cable reception only, which, at the time was quite rare. The programming available on MTV-2 was aimed at audiences which were most unlikely to receive the channel, so this meant a severe handicap for the company. Currently the company is recuperating from the decline earlier.

During the nineties the MTV gradually lost its independence and became the voice of the all-time government, often accused of biased on commenting news[citation needed]. Currently it is one of the most popular sources of news, and its background news programmes such as Az Este (The Evening) are both liked and internationally recognised. Its line-up of programmes feature long-running shows, such as the science news programme Delta, whilst other programmes like A Hét (The Week), a weekly review programme and Ablak (Window), an afternoon-long umbrella programme featuring general interest programmes, were both axed in recent years.

The 2000s

MTV is continuously underfinanced, just like many other public service channels around the globe, and is therefore struggling to produce programmes.

Whilst remaining entirely state-owned, the company was re-organised as a Closely Held Corporation. Its funding has changed significantly too when TV licencing stopped in 2002. This meant that the company is entirely relying on the government grants, and since it is a Closely Held Corporation, it isn't allowed to go public. The lack of funding has a strong influence on both the quality and quantity of programming.

The 2006 protests didn't leave the headquarters unscatched; in fact, it was occupied by the rioters for a short time.

In 1997, m1 was a 24 hours TV station with m2. But in 2000 they follow the suggestion from the government so they let m1 close again. But m2 still being 24 hours.[citation needed]

The future of MTV

The building where MTV currently resides has been sold, and plans have been made to re-locate the Company in one of the outer districts of Budapest. Although no specific plans have been disclosed so far, it was announced that a purpose-built complex will be erected to house the Hungarian Television.

MTV Trademark Suit

Magyar Televízió, who has a trademark on the initials MTV registered with the Hungarian copyright office, sued the American MTV Music Television network for trademark infringement when MTV Music Television launched a Hungarian-language channel in 2007. The suit is still ongoing.


Aerial photography

The Hungarian Television's central building was located in the heart of Budapest on Szabadság tér (Freedom Square), across the Hungarian National Bank (Magyar Nemzeti Bank), the U.S. Embassy, and near to the Parliament. The building gave room to the Stock Exchange before the war. It is sold now and MTV has moved to the outskirts of Budapest to a purpose-built modern building. The old headquarters can be reached by a 5 minutes walk from Kossuth tér where Metro line 2 stops.



External links

Coordinates: 47°30′13.44″N 19°2′58.21″E / 47.5037333°N 19.0495028°E / 47.5037333; 19.0495028

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