The Digital Agenda for Europe, published by the European Commission in 2010, made proposals for measures on cultural and audiovisual issues that have also been implemented in Austria. For example, the EU online library Europeana and the digitalisation of cultural heritage content and support, for the digitalisation of film, for the development of indicators for digital qualifications and media literacy, as well as for initiatives in the field of intellectual property in connection with digital media.
In 2016, the government adopted the Digital Roadmap Austria, which covers 12 topics, among them “Media, civil courage and culture”. By using digital technologies, art and culture should be made more visible and accessibility barriers should be reduced. But traditional media must also play their democratic role in the digital environment. The reuse and further use of cultural resources is regarded as crucial for the development of the near future: the copyright issues. To address these challenges, measures include:
- Reforming press subsidies by promoting quality in the digital media world;
- Strengthening and improving journalists’ media literacy;
- Expanding digital services of arts and culture facilities (e.g. museums, archives, libraries and national and European platforms such as Kulturpool and Europeana) and improving the ease of access;
- Improving opportunities for using digital cultural content for education, science, tourism and the creative sector, taking into account the interests of the rights holders;
- Increasing participation in cultural programmes through digital solutions such as mobile services, live streams and augmented reality;
- Strengthening media literacy of contributors and users, in particular children and young people;
- Taking measures against hate speech.
In 2017, the tasks for economy and digital policy were merged in the Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs. Since 2017, there has been a Digital Overall Strategy for Schools and in 2019 the Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs announced a Digitalisation Strategy of the government as one of the main topics for the coming years. With the establishment of a digitisation agency under the umbrella brand Digital Austria the government provides a central platform for the implementation of relevant digitisation activities and has presented a digital action plan. For example, an online platform for museums will be set up in order to create contemporary and modern access, especially for children and young people.
The Kulturpool, an initiative of the Arts and Culture Division of the BMKOES and the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), offers central access to digitalised Austrian cultural heritage resources in museums, libraries and archives and provides these to Europeana. One of the main tasks of the Arts and Culture Division of the BMKOES is the promotion of contemporary art in Austria and the presence of Austrian artists abroad. Comprehensive holdings of art and photography have been digitally recorded and the federal government established the image databases Artothek and the Fotosammlung (federal collection of photography at the Museum of Modern Art Salzburg). Additionally, image databases of the federal museums and others, the Austrian Mediathek and ANNO – Austrian Newspapers Online are supported by public funds. The project ABO – Austrian Books Online has been running since 2010 as a private-public partnership between the National Library and Google. In the course of this project, 600 000 copyright-free library holdings from the 16th to the 19th century have been digitalised and integrated into the online-inventory of the National Library as well as the Europeana.
A main actor in the field of media and digital arts is Ars Electronica in Linz, Upper Austria. It annually organises one of the most important festivals at the interface of arts, new media, politics and society in Europe and stimulates debates on art and technology and the threats and challenges of the digital shift.
In the field of audiovisual media, the emphasis is also being placed on digitalisation. KommAustria has the statutory task of presenting a revised digitalisation concept every two years. Currently, the emphasis is on the nationwide introduction of digital terrestrial television broadcasting.