For decades, Hungarian State Television (MTV) has produced talk
shows. Formerly, a presenter would sit around a table in a dull studio
with professors, Party officials and loyal journalists, discussing the
uncontroversial topic of the day while viewers took a nap. Then, in
1992, came the Friderikusz Show, a glitzy Western-style chat show,
hosted by the colourful Sandor Friderikusz. And the viewers began to
Now, with four to five million viewers, Friderikusz nets roughly half
the population each time the monthly show goes out, and the programme is
second in the ratings only to the US-produced Dallas. Such is its
success that Friderikusz sells the most expensive airtime in Hungary and
is the only show on MTV to have a central break.
’The viewing figures are so ridiculously high that they attract the lazy
advertisers, and the cautious ones who can’t afford a risk,’ explains
Bela Nemeth, the head of broadcasting at Budapest-based Initiative
Media. ’When you can guarantee that half the population is going to be
watching, you just can’t go wrong.’
It is not only Friderikusz’s irreverent style and wit that pull in the
viewers. His guest list over the past two years is also unmatched in
central Europe - Sylvester Stallone, Claudia Schiffer, OJ Simpson
post-trial, Antonio Banderas and, of course, virtually every actor from
Fired by the success of the show, Friderikusz also launched two new
programmes last year. Unexpected Guest is a kind of Hungarian version of
This is Your Life; and Talking in Another Way, where the host interviews
public figures and politicians in a light-hearted manner. Although well
received by viewers, neither of the new shows has matched the original
in the ratings.
Friderikusz runs on MTV on a renewable one-year contract, and the annual
negotiations have been stormy affairs with both Friderikusz and the
various presidents of MTV threatening to pull the show off the air.
However, in September, one of Hungary’s two state channels will be
privatised and a franchise given for another national private channel.
Insiders say Friderikusz has already received offers from some of the
bidders and is keen to sign up to one of the new channels. But with so
much influence over the viewing figures, he is waiting to see what
develops before making his move.
Hosted by Sandor Friderikusz
Produced by Friderikusz Productions
Broadcast on the third Thursday of every month.
Average viewing figures 4.5m (Dallas has average viewing figures of
Penetration 45-55 per cent