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Austria/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

Austrian regulations on content correspond to the European Directive "Television without Frontiers" (see Austrian Broadcasting Act, Article 1, 2 b, 1999).

Advertising is also regulated by the Austrian Broadcasting Act. In its two TV channels, the state broadcaster ORF is allowed to broadcast advertising programmes only nationwide and a maximum of 42 minutes per day. On a yearly average, advertising broadcasts (TV) must not exceed 5% of the daily length of programmes, with deviations of not more than 20 per cent per day being permissible. Only 172 minutes of advertising is allowed per day and per channel for radio programmes, with deviations of not more than 20 per cent per day being permissible. Ö1 is the only "advertising-free" public station and Radio Orange is one of the advertising-free private radio stations.

Amendments to the Austrian Broadcasting Act forbid "interruption advertising" (i.e. advertising that interrupts running programmes). Advertising is not permitted on Good Friday, Christmas and All Saints Day on either public radio or television. Furthermore, advertising for newspapers, magazines etc., on television is limited to two minutes per day; cross-promotion is permitted and "interrupting advertising" is only allowed for the transmission of events (e.g. sports events). Since 1999, TV-programmes considered unsuitable for minors have been flagged on screen.

An amendment to the Broadcasting Act ("Austrian Broadcasting Corporation Act") in 2001 included the legal transformation of the ORF into a foundation and the production of a new version of the statutory programme directive. It also included a new clause on the promotion of Austrian artistic and creative productions. Nominations for the foundation council are partly submitted by the government. A significant change has been the introduction of a new regulation that forbids the nomination of politicians to the council. The statutory tasks are to be more clearly separated from other commercial activities of the ORF. Although this reform was intended to reduce party-political influence on the ORF, many commentators remain doubtful about the success of this step towards independence.

In 2004, a new Press Subsidy Act (Presseförderungsgesetz) came into force. In addition to distribution subsidies for daily and weekly newspapers and special subsidies for the preservation of diversity in regional daily newspapers, the Press Subsidy Act also provides measures, such as support for the education of journalists and for research projects. The Journalism Subsidy Act (Publizistikförderungsgesetz, 1984) sets out, among other things, provisions for support to periodicals if they deal with the topic of culture or related scientific disciplines. Since 2004, the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) has been responsible for administering the press subsidies and subsidies under the Journalism Subsidy Act.

A digitalisation fund was launched in 2004 to foster digital terrestrial broadcasting in Austria. Between 2004 and 2008 the fund received from EUR 7.5 million to EUR 6.7 million annually, and from 2009 - EUR 0.5 million annually, derived from broadcasting fees.

A "Fund for the promotion of noncommercial private broadcasting", created in 2009, is administered by the RTR company and receives EUR 3 million annually from part of the fees under the broadcasting fees act, which previously went into the federal budget. The support funds serve the promotion of non-commercial broadcasting within Austria's dual broadcasting system and are intended to support broadcasting operators in the provision of high-value, multifaceted programming.

Chapter published: 02-02-2016

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