Hungarian Government statement

There are many European countries where broadcast production is centralised... Austria (ORF).82

country experts

Katharine Sarikakis (Phd) is a Professor of Media Governance at the Institute of Communication Science, University of Vienna. Prior to this, she was the founder and director of the Centre for International Communication Research at the University of Leeds, UK. She is also the chairperson of Communication Law and Policy Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and an elected member of the International Council of IAMCR. Her publications include: Media Policy and Globalisation (2006, with P Chakravarrty) Powers in Media Policy (2004) and British Media in a Global Era (2004). She is the editor of Media and Cultural Policy in the European Union (2007) and coeditor of the International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics.


Expert assessment: centralisation of public service media news production

It is true there is some level of centralised news production and programming within Austria's public service media system, as with most public service media systems. Yet this oversimplifies what is actually a more complex arrangement regarding ORF's requirements for regional programming and collaborative production with its subsidiaries.83 ORF's main broadcasting activities are centralised at its headquarters in Vienna. However, ORF is required to address specific "decentralised' needs of regional broadcasting;84 hence, ORF's production is organised geographically by Austria's nine federal regions. Overall broadcasting is the responsibility of ORF's general director, who has authority over the management of programming and is responsible for guaranteeing the quality of content.85 The general director determines the guidelines of content with the approval of the Foundation Council.

At the same time, each federal region has its own independently operated broadcasting production facilities, headed by a director responsible for making editorial decisions. Programming at the national level is determined by the individual directors of the different media services and also by the individual directors of each of the regional studios. Regional studios produce independent TV and radio news programmes, talk shows, documentaries, music, and arts and entertainment features, all of which are aired on regional ORF2. The regional director is responsible for this content.86 Regional studios also contribute 10 to 15 percent of news, culture and other programs for ORF's two national stations.87 In addition, ORF runs local stations with local content in each of the nine regions.

ORF was established as a public foundation by the Federal Constitutional Act of 10 July 1974.88 It is financed by television-owner license fees and advertising revenues. ORF dominates the broadcast market in Austria, with two national television stations, ORF1 and ORF2, with a combined market share of 38.2 percent in 2009.89 (Private nationwide television was only introduced in Austria in 2001). In addition, there are the aforementioned regional TV broadcasts.

Regarding the criticism to which the Hungarian Government is responding, centralisation of news production may not be detrimental to pluralism per se, so long as the voices represented and stories covered are diverse, journalists are protected and given tools to act independently, and there are provisions that prohibit political and other involvement. In this regard, ORF has a highly developed mandate as to the quality and diversity of its programming, with special attention given to science and culture, innovative programming and European works.90 Moreover, under the ORF Act there is sophisticated system of editor representatives that make up the Editorial Council, a body charged with protecting the editorial rights and independence of the journalistic staff.91 In this system, every ten editors elect their own representatives to participate in the Editors Assembly Council, which is responsible for formulating ORF's Editorial Statutes. The Editorial Statutes are based on the ORF Act and the constitutional provision on the guarantee of independent audiovisual media.92 In addition, under the amended ORF Act, a new Public Review Board was established to submit feedback on ORF's services.93 The Review Board is required to evaluate whether new ORF services effectively fulfill ORF's public mandate and to assess the quality of programming diversity for viewers, listeners and users. The review board comprises five members, appointed by the Austrian Federal Government for five-year terms. Members of the review board must be experts in the field of media law, media sciences or business administration and economics.

82 See "Criticism 8" in "Criticisms and answers formulated on the subject of the proposed media act examined in a European context," Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, December 20, 2010, available at:
83 See Austrian Broadcasting Company at:
84 Federal Act on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF Act), Section 4, Paragraph 16, Federal Law Gazette No. 379/1984 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No. 83/2001, available at:
85 Sections 22-23, Federal Act on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF Act) Federal Law Gazette No. 379/1984 as amended by Federal Law Gazette I No. 83/2001,
86 Programm Richtlinien, available at:
87 See European Association of Regional Public Service Television (CIRCOM) (Last Updated 25 March 2010).
88 Federal Constitutional Law of 10 July 1974 Federal Law Gazette No. 396/1974 (in German)
89 "TV market in Austria," MAVISE database of TV companies and TV channels in the European Union, European Audiovisual Observatory,
90 This is explained in considerable depth in the revised ORF Act ORF-G text and in Programmrichtlinien (P-RL) .
91 Sections 8-10 of the revised ORF Act (ORF-G), Federal Law Gazette No. 379/1984 (WV),
92 Sections 6 and 7 of revised ORF Act, ORF-G, Redakteurstatut, "ORF Editorial Statutes,"
93 In accordance with Section 6a of the revised ORF Act: