Budapest-based IMG, a company specializing in media buying and media planning, won its second major government tender in two months with a HUF 2 billion (nearly EUR 7 million) contract from the Media Authority (NMHH) to run the communications strategy for Hungary’s digital switchover, Kreatív Online reports.
This is the latest in a string of successful bids for IMG (Inter Media Group Kft.), which is majority owned by Péter Patonai, who was appointed as CEO of the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB) during current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s first government (1998-2002). In November 2012 it was announced that IMG won a public procurement contract, valued at more than HUF 1.5 billion, to handle media buying for the Media Services and Asset Management Fund (MTVA), the body that manages state media holdings. The MTVA is managed by Hungary’s Media Council.
The new contract involves developing a media strategy, advertisements, PR, a website and other products and services designed to communicate information about the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, which was originally set for December 2012 but has since been pushed back to December 2014.
A previous investigation by Kreatív magazine found that IMG’s winning tenders in 2012 totaled approximately HUF 4.5 billion (EUR 15.2 million). IMG in 2011 also received a HUF 180 million (EUR 610,000) contract to promote the census. The majority of that money reportedly went to an outdoor advertising campaign handled by Mahir Cityposter Kft., a company owned by Lajos Simicska, according to Népszava. Simicska, the former head of the tax authority (APEH), is a close friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
In winning the right to handle communications for the digital switch over, IMG beat out two other bidders who were excluded in the first phase of the tender process: GMC consortium (Grey Worldwide, MC Mediacompany and Carnation) and the consortium of Prohome 2010 and Maximize Media agency. According to Kreatív, one of the bidders complained about the unfairness of the unusually difficult terms of the tender, including the requirement that applicants show they made HUF 1 billion in media purchases between 2009 and 2011 and generated a turnover of HUF 600 million in media purchases in at least one of those three years. IMG was able to meet this requirement through its past government contracts.