Just as I expected. News coverage at the two stations is poor, with RTL Klub even worse than TV2.
These two stations have the financial wherewithal to produce news of considerable value. They can send out reporters and cameramen for on-the-spot coverage. The trouble is with what they cover. It's similar to the fare on local broadcast news programs in the U.S. However, American stations also broadcast national after the local news.
On TV2's forty-minute program every story, even the most unimportant, is reported in depth. For example, the mother of a hyperactive child claims that the kindergarten teacher scratched her child's neck, drawing blood. TV2 sent a reporter to the small town where that happened and interviewed both the director of the kindergarten and the mother.
The heat wave was the lead story, a theme that was smuggled into several other reports: the festival at Lake Balaton, interviews with ambulance drivers, the death of a seventeen-year-old boy at Lake Balaton. When it came to the circumstances of the capture of alleged murderer from Serbia, TV2 knew more about the case than any other television station. He drove a luxury Mercedes, but it broke down while he was driving toward the Serbian border and therefore he was hiding for days in an empty pig sty. TV2 seems to know that he had an arsenal of weapons that weighed 39 kg.
There was a report on the theft of a car belonging to a French family vacationing in Balatonlelle. While escaping, the thief had an accident. A TV2 reporter and cameraman were on the spot showing the wreck and the helicopter checking highway M7.
Bottles containing carbonated vodka were pulled from the shelves because a couple of them exploded. Again, TV2 was on the scene, and its reporter talked to the spokeswoman of Tesco. Someone who was planning to rob a casino in Pécs went by taxi; having failed to pull off the heist (these criminals are either inept or really unlucky), he got back into the taxi and rode around for half an hour, after which he left without paying. The TV2 staff went to Pécs and showed the casino as well as videos of the man in action.
TV2 couldn't leave out the story of the sick children at summer camp, but again they found out exactly how many children became ill and what the symptoms were. They even managed to get an interview with the director of the hospital in Veszprém, Jenő Rácz, former minister of health. For good measure they talked to the region's medical officer.
In a couple of villages in Veszprém County people have to use bottled water because herbicide and fertilizer got into the water. The report also noted that the Danube is also polluted with insecticides and all these poisonous substances can cause stomach cancer.
Then came the espionage case. They talked to Lajos Galambos's lawyer; they briefly showed Ágnes Vadai (MSZP), chairman of the commitee on national security, expressing her doubts about the evidence presented, and they talked to László Földi, a former intelligence officer.
Back to the normal fare: four hundred apartments are without hot water in Záhogy; a truck burst into flames; a kindergarten must be closed in Érd because MÁV is laying new tracks.
Suddenly we are in Paris. Sympathizers of Palestine are not allowed to travel to Israel.
Back to Hungary. The "Balaton Sound" festival in Zamárdi is so loud that on the north side of the lake people can't sleep. Cyclists who have no light can receive one free of charge from the police. The bicycle lane around Lake Balaton is at last finished. One can now circle the lake without worrying about cars. The length of the bicycle lane is 200 km.
The last trip of the Atlantis ends the broadcast.
As I said, RTL Klub's news coverage is even worse. The lead story was alleged kidnappings in Romania, which turned out to be untrue. Demonstrators for Palestine couldn't fly to Israel. A tearful farewell to Harry Potter. András Stohl, an actor who had a serious accident while under the influence, goes to schools to talk about drug and alcohol abuse. They don't know why the boy at Lake Balaton died. Brief stories on the Serbian murderer, the heat wave, the problem of not enough gyms for daily gym classes. They reported that the price of cigarettes will not go up, and finally, a message came from the sky to a family in Baranya County. In Austria there is a kindergarten where at the end of the year the children send messages via helium balloons. They ask the people who find them to send them a postcard. Great excitement in the village. And that was the end of the evening news.
Out of the five television stations four produce inferior news programs, including the ones that are supposed to provide "quality" broadcasting. After I had finished my article yesterday I read the blog of Árpád W. Tóta whom a friend of mine called "phenomenal." Indeed, he is an excellent commentator with a fantastic style. He too was writing about public television news and remarked that soon enough MTV's evening news will cause about as much excitement as mass on Sunday morning. That's a pretty apt description of the state of affairs, I'm afraid. I would be greatly surprised if with a new crew MTV suddenly became a first-rate television station. I expect in fact further deterioration. In one-party states where the media is strictly controlled, the news is usually deadly dull.