RTL and TV2 have not yet announced whether they would be running political advertisements during the election campaign period starting on February 12, but several major media companies have already indicated that they would not, reports HVG. Presumably this is because they won’t be allowed to charge campaigns for ads but would have to broadcast them for free.
ATV and ViacomCBS-owned stations will definitely not be running political ads during this election cycle, the news site learned. The latter company operates Comedy Central and the Paramount Channel in Hungary.
HVG has not gotten a reponse from the commercial director of HírTV yet, while the press departments for RTL Hungary and the TV2 Group both told the news site that they would give a definite answer to the question at a later time.
After János Áder announced the date of the election for April 3, online and print media companies were required to provide their advertising rates to the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) by 4 pm on Tuesday if they wanted to run campaign ads. However, this regulation did not apply to radio and TV channels, only their online news portals.
Public broadcasters are required by law to air spots for every candidate, but there is a reason why commercial television and radio stations are not rushing to book campaign spots: they will have to choose either to run election ads for free, or not at all.
After the Orbán government introduced the change in its second term in office, no nationwide commercial station was willing to run campaign advertising for free in the 2014 campaign, with RTL Klub later deciding to do so.
The situation is completely different for online and print media, where the only condition is that none of the candidates can receive a lower rate than the previously-announced ad rates submitted to ÁSZ, which qualifies as illegal campaign financing.