Authors: Ryan Shanahan - Nigel Leung - Tom Connor - Alexander Roach - Bianca Pedro


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1) Ownership of Media
  • Major Media Ownership (Public and Private)
  • Analysis of the limits between diversity and cross-media ownership.

2) Forms of Media and regulations in place
  • A) TV
  • B) Radio, Internet
  • C) Print Media

3) Regulation reinforcements
  • KommAustria
  • Rundfunk- und Telekomm-Regulierungs GmbH (RTR)
  • Bundeskommunikationssenat

Major Media Ownership (Public and Private)

The ownership of media in Austria is relatively concentrated. However, both government and private ownership is in place within the country. Overall, Austria enjoys a high amount of press freedom, quoted on the 2011-2012 Press Freedom index as N# 5, behind the Netherlands, with a score of -8,00. (Reporters Without Borders, 2012). This can be contrasted to Australia’s current ranking of N# 30, with a score of 4,00.

Broadcast News Media Ownership in Austria
The extremely diverse and influential ‘Broadcast’ segment of media is extremely concentrated in Austria, with the ‘ORF’ (Oesterreichischer Rundfunk), which translates as ‘Austrian Broadcasting’, being the main (and only) source of broadcast information in the country. The ORF is the Austrian national public service broadcaster, and covers many forms of media, including television, radio, IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) and news. The ORF is funded through limited advertising and television license fees, and continues to be the main national broadcasting source in Austria, however government legislation does allow for some other broadcasting alternatives to be established.

Internet News Media Ownership in Austria
The Internet News media landscape in Austria is much more diverse than the public broadcasting sector, with numerous privately-owned companies offering information to Austria about foreign and national matters, as well as financial and business information, in addition to general interest and entertainment media. National Internet news sources like Aktien Portal, Austria Today and Austrian Times are privately owned and politically independent news providers, offering information about the country and stocks (Aktie Portal). However, many foreign companies also offer websites and internet-media that provides information about Austria. For example, the World News Network offers ‘Austria News’, and information giants MSN, Google and Yahoo all offer information accessible by both residents of Austria and those living abroad. Overall, the Internet New Media in Austria enjoys a large degree of freedom and autonomy, with many private owners offering diverse and distinctive views and information.

Magazine News Media Ownership in Austria
Similar to Internet news media, magazine news media in Austria is extremely diverse – both in content and ownership. The major players in the magazine sector of media in Austria include: Format, Industrie Magazin, Neue Wochenschau, News Magazin, Osterreich Journal, Profil, Format Trend and The Economist (ABYZ Media Links, 2011). Together, these magazines have expanded to also cover news media (through their websites) and other forms of media.

Newspaper News Media Ownership in Austria
Surpassing all other forms of media ownership and content in Austria, the Newspaper media sector employs an extremely large range of companies in order to deliver distinct and factual information to the Austrian population on a daily basis. The Austrian newspaper segment is, arguably, the reason why they are so highly ranked on the Press Freedom Index. In relation to national newspaper media, the foremost names in the industry include: Der Kurier, Der Standard, Die Presse, Neue Kronen Zeitung, Osterreich, Salzburger, Nachrichten, Wiener Zeitung and Wirtschafts Blatt. These companies operate, like most native Austrian media, in the German language, however some offer access to English alternatives (for example, on their websites).

In addition, there are over 40 different local Austrian newspapers and news media, covering local events and news in the areas of: Burgenland, Carinthia, Niederosterreich/Oberosterreich (Lower/Upper Austria), Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna (ABYZ Media Links, 2011) The aforementioned ORF also plays a large role in the local news of Austria, covering most television and radio broadcast throughout the regions. Radio broadcasting was a state monopoly run by the ORF, but in 1998 the government allowed private radio stations to run, and are presently still broadcasting.

Press Agency News Media Ownership in Austria
As defined by the free dictionary, press agency “collects news reports for newspapers and distributes it electronically”. In Austria, there are two companies that are responsible for this practice, they are: Austria Presse Agentur, and Pressetext Austria - this is indicative of a modest or small-scale industry.

Evidently, the Austrian media landscape is relatively varied in comparison to most countries. The extreme amount of choice in newspaper / Internet and magazine media that Austria enjoys raises the country's degree of press freedom. However, the concentrated and relatively monopolistic nature of Austrian broadcasting media, with the government granting licenses to few radio stations and television providers, indicates a need for less restriction and a reform of legislation.

1. 'Press Freedom Index', Reporters Without Borders, 2012, Accessed 10 August 2012, <,1043.html>
2. 'ORF', Wikipedia, 2012, Accessed 9 August 2012, <>
3. 'Austrian Media Ownership', ABYZ Web Links, 2011, Accessed 11 August 2012, <>
4. 'Media of Austria', Wikipedia, 2012, Accessed 11 August 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.ord/wiki/Media_of_Austria
5. 'Dictionary - Press Agency', Farlex Inc, 2012, Accessed 12 August 2012, <>

Analysis of the limits between diversity and cross-media ownership in Austria

Part I of this research explores the idea that media ownership as the fourth estate will argue against government intervention in their work: It is essential for a democratic government to refrain from excessive control over the mass media as it would inevitably increase the concentration of media ownership (Papandrea 2002, p.261).

Austria is a small nation with a population of approximately 8 and a half million. In terms of the National papers, (the country's two main tabloids - Kronen Zeitung and Kurier) reach more than half the population. They are largely privately-owned press that continued through WWII, stabilizing after the 20th century. Most of the printing press retains a strong foreign influence and control from its neighbour Germany. German media group Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, for instance, has a 50% stake in Mediaprint Vienna, which controls both the biggest-selling national tabloids- Kronen Zeitung and Kurier (BBC NEWS 2005). Specifically, the three particular titles (Presse, Standard, Wiener Zeitung) compete for quality news segment. Consequently, this diverse flow of power allows significant improvement in the quality of these papers. In addition, economic developments have improved considerably since 1995 when the economic daily Wirtschaftsblatt was launched (Trappel 2010), based on the concept of the Swedish Dagens Industri, with the strong monetary funding of the Swedish Bonnier Group.

From these we can see that independent media diversity provides a marketplace for ideas, and like any marketplace, these ideas creates a competitive market and are significant to the efficiency and vitality of production. However, when considering the information presented, a growing trend of cross media ownership can be seen, which could potentially (if ignored by the government) create a media monopoly, thus adversely affecting the diversity of information available to the Austrian population: It is the government's responsibility to regulate these potential consequences.

The Austrian government provides all daily and weekly newspapers with annual direct payments: In theory, these funds will be distributed via the diversified flow of information as so to create liberal and democratic ownerships. This, however, is subjective to the cross-media ownership- in 2003, law reformed this press subsidy scheme, to encourage the promotion of regional diversity, professional development of journalists, and special projects. In the recent economic situation, these subsidies have helped newspapers to survive and to contribute to media pluralism (Trappel 2009: 178).

Many media owners belong to various trade unions. The role of these organizations within the Austrian mass media landscape is relatively important; the Federation participates in all relevant deliberations on media policy issues and negotiates collective agreements for all employees. For example, the Austrian market for news magazines is almost entirely controlled by the News-Group. It, among others, gained control after acquiring the competing news magazine Profil in September, 2000 (Sterling 2008:463). This acquisition established an unprecedented accumulation of media ownership, assembling practically all news magazines (News, Profil, Trend, Format) and some 10 other magazines (among them: Woman, TV-Media, E-Media) under the same ownership.

Diversity of sources of information can be broadened by the diversity in the ownership of media companies and by competition, it is however, vital for the government and regulatory bodies to ensure minimal restrictions on the numbers allowed for one to cross own several companies; They all share the concern of giving representation to social groups that are marginalised, neglected or misrepresented from mainstream media. It is plausible that whilst both the states and markets can constrain media freedom and pluralism, public policy may also promote a diverse media platform in Austria (Day, 2008, pp. 20–21).

  1. (BBC NEWS 2005) accessed on 1/8 2012
  2. Day, R 'Community Radio in Ireland: Participation and Multi- flows of Communication Hampton Press', New Jersey, 2008.Accessed 12 August 2012
  3. Papandrea, Franco, 'The Implications of Convergence for the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Regulatory Regimes', Working Paper, Communication and Media Policy Institute University of Canberra, 2002Accessed 12 August 2012
  4. Sterling, Christopher H, 'Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly', 461-463.Accessed 12 August 2012
  5. Trappel, Josef 05 November 2010, European Journalism Centre. Accessed on 2/8 2012

Austrian Print Media

Print media is a vital form of the Austrian media, shaping the opinions and perspectives of its voting audience. With its ownership considered among the most concentrated in Europe, the newspaper industry is dominated by a select few. This has been the case since the conclusion of WWII, which has left only a handful of competing newspapers, although this has remained stable right up until the present day. Recently, the trend has been toward daily newspapers, with more than “2.4 million copies” (Trappel, 2010) printed on a daily basis “to service a population of only 8.3 million” (Trappel, 2010). Historically, without the substantial investments from a number of large German companies the Austrian print media industry would have struggled to fill no more than a few papers: Whilst a number of these investors have withdrawn from Austria there are still some who remain, reinforcing the German influence in Austria.

The Austrian newspaper industry comprises of local, regional and national newspaper titles, the largest of which “Neue Kronenzeitung" prints approximately 1 million copies daily, of which it sells around 820,000 copies. The Nueue Kronenzeitung made up approximately 42% of the entire Austrian newspaper market, leaving “the remaining 63% to be distributed among 15 daily newspapers across the country” (Trappel, 2010) This data includes free-sheets and all papers at varying levels, even the smallest regional productions which produce less than 10,000 copies daily.

Free-sheets are newspapers which, as their name suggests, are given away for free and provide a fresh alternative to those reinforcing the opinions of the media giants. One of the larger, well known free-sheet editions is the “Osterreich”, distributed amongst town centers around the country. The target audience has been identified as young adults aged 18-35 and is a part of the national press. The makeup of the national press includes 7 different newspaper titles, with 4 of these adopting a tabloid style of presentation. Having a number of different papers to choose from on a national scale has resulted in greater competition and the improvement in the quality of journalism that is being distributed.

On the next level down is the regional press, which is traditionally dominated by one publisher per province, typically controlling a number of newspapers in their area. Although these papers sell no more than 10,000 copies they play an important role in supplying local news to the people of each province. In doing so, these publishers consolidate the regional market and prevent new competition forming. The push to maintain local producers was extended with the use of free-sheets, which provided locals with quick, complementary news on the go. Ultimately however they would prove to be unsuccessful and unsustainable when the financial crisis hit around 2008. This and the dominance of the national papers saw “Regional papers struggle to support themselves through small classified ads, regional advertising, and sales” (Press Reference, 2012).

The main competition for the regional papers comes from the regional editions of the big national papers. In particular the national giant Neue Kronenzeitung has extended its influence in to the regional market, with its smaller newspapers now dominating, leading 8 out of the 9 provinces in terms of regional sales. The Austrian magazine industry on the other hand is under the monopolistic control of a company called “News-Group”, who bought out their major competitors back in 2000. This saw the company become the owners of up to 14 different magazines distributed nation-wide. This is significant due to the single voice and perspective that is coincidently adopted by the publishers.

Perhaps what is even more worrying is that of all “advertising channels for the Austrian market (measured in share of advertising revenue 2006) print media accounts for 57%” (Austrian Direct Marketing Association, 2012) (leaving television (23%) and radio (7.3%) in the shade.Perhaps what is even more worrying is the fact that print media accounts for up to 52% of all advertising, giving the publishers to ability to pick and choose the products and importantly people they wish to promote.

  1. Trappel, J 2010, European Journalism Centre, Accessed 5/8/12,
  2. Trappel, J 2010, European Journalism Centre, Accessed 5/8/12,
  3. Trappel, J 2010, European Journalism Centre, Accessed 6/8/12,
  4. Press Reference, 2012, Austria, Accessed 7/8/12,
  5. Austrian Direct Marketing Association, 2012, Advertising and Media, Accessed 8/8/12,

Austrian Television

ORF, the Austrian national public service broadcaster, manage two generalist television channels and one special interest channel. In 1988 approximately 41% of households had a satellite television, and in 2005 94.1% of households owned a television. "In 1974 a constitutional law was passed giving ORF complete financial autonomy from the government and guaranteeing it freedom from attempts by the government or any state body to exert influence on programming."(Trappel, J 2010)
1. Henceforth, the ORF holds a paramount role in the control and regulation of Austrian Television.

The following is a table outlining general television usage in Austria: 2.
Number of Television Stations
Number of Television Sets
Television sets per 1,000
Television consumption (Minutes per day)

In 2001, however, the Austrian parliament passed a law on private television, allowing private operators to be eligible for licenses nationally, regionally and locally. In 2003, a private broadcaster based in Vienna, named ATV, was the only nation terrestrial television frequency for private broadcasters. ATV was controlled by numerous banks in Austria as well a Herbert Kloiber, a German film trader. In addition to this, 'Puls TV' in Vienna was a small broadcaster which was granted terrestrial and cable licences in 2007 at a regional and local level.

German-language channels distributed throughout Austria are in competition with these Austrian television channels; with 53 percent of the television viewing in 2008 coming from foreign programs. The Austrian ORF programmes reach a market share of 42 percent, falling from 54 percent in 2002; whilst ATV reached a market share of only 3 percent in 2008. The German channels attributed a market share of 18 percent, hence foreign channels are a large contributor to Austria's broadcasting media.

In 2001 the radio and television regulatory body governed the 'Digital Platform Austria', established under the Federal Law on Private Televisation, which gave a platform for this body to manage the digital switchover. A fund was created in order to show support for research into digital television; a strategic plan financed by 'parts of the radio and television licence fee revenue' (Trappel, J 2010), which has raised 6.7m annually since. In 2008, 'the penetration of digital televsion increased to more than 50 percent of all households'. (Trappel, J 2010)

1. Terzis, G 2008. ‘The Austrian Media Landscape, in ‘European Media Governance: National and Regional Dimensions’. Intellect Books, Bristil UK, Accessed 12/8/12,

Austrian Radio

Until the 1970s, state-owned broadcasting monopolies were active in Austria, it was not until 1983, long after the rest of Europe had proceeded, Austria liberalised its radio broadcast market (Terzis, G 2008 p.63).

The ORF currently dominates both the regional and national radio markets: Irrespective of the 1993 legislation passed that allowed private commercial radio operators to obtain licenses, the ORF continues to be, statistically, the most popular radio programme in Austria. “ORF radio programme … still had a much larger market share (49 percent in 2008) than all private stations together (29 percent in 2008).” (Trappel, J 2010) According to Trappel, Austrian’s listened to 209 minutes of radio broadcast a day: The data obtained in 2008 reveals Austrian audiences in this case study as preferring ORF radio channels, listening for approximately 71 percent of the time, and only listening 23 percent of the time to a private radio station.

Austria’s national public service monopolised radio broadcast market was re-established as a result of the mentioned legislation: This, by 1998, allowed most of the 53 licensed radio operators to be on air (Trappel, J 2010). By 2009, the private radio market was almost doubled, with licenses granted to over 80 private radio operators. Media owners in all sectors (including television and print media) were, as of 2001, “eligible to own 100 percent of a radio station” on condition that the reach of radio investment “does not overlap with the reach of its other media.” (Trappel, J 2010) Publishers took advantage of Austria’s legislative development and invested in shares in local and regional channels.

1.Terzis, G 2008. ‘The Austrian Media Landscape, in ‘European Media Governance: National and Regional Dimensions’. Intellect Books, Bristil UK, Accessed 14/8/12,,id=4601/
2. Trappel, J 2010, European Journalism Centre, Accessed 13/8/12,

Austrian Digital Media

The Austrian digital, or online, media market is presently characterised by high online shares for the public service ORF and daily press and is “dominated by traditional media owners”. (Terzis, G 2008 p.68) According to Terzis, Austria’s digital media landscape involves a complete lack of legislation to manage digital media issues, a lack of discourse revolving around the value of diversity in the media sector, and a high level of concentration in the print media.

Currently, Austrian online media viewing generally consists of Web extensions of the countries’ main medium’s content – be it print or television media. The ORF, ‘Der Standard’ and the ‘Kronenzeitung’ (or, are one of the sole mediums that provide websites with independent online news rooms with content that does not necessarily reflect “the content of the main medium”. (Terzis, 2008 p.68) In saying this, these web services that are generated by traditional mass media companies are “among the most frequently visited websites in Austria.” (Trappel, J 2010) In 2009, the ORF reached 4.3 million unique clients; perhaps an indication of the audience’s appreciation of its “broad variety of Internet services.” (Trappel, J 2010)

Additionally, the internationally known web portals: MSN and other e-mail services, Ebay, and GMX, are extremely popular (Trappel, J 2010). Print media sectors, such as the newspaper and magazine market, have turned to provide online media content so as to better interact with a fast evolving audience. The daily newspaper ‘Österreich’ was successful in reaching 1.9 million unique visitors. Magazine sectors such as ‘News’, ‘Kleine Zeitung’, ‘Presse’, ‘Neue Kronenzeitung’, each reached over 1 million unique clients (data from OEWA cited in Trappel, J 2010) as they provided online media content.

1.Terzis, G 2008. ‘The Austrian Media Landscape, in ‘European Media Governance: National and Regional Dimensions’. Intellect Books, Bristil UK, Accessed 14/8/12,,id=4601/
2. Trappel, J 2010, European Journalism Centre, Accessed 13/8/12,

Komm Austria

The authority monitors and regulates the Austrian media is known as KommAustria. The organisation acts as an “independent panelauthority which is not subject to instructions from any other authority” (Rundfunk & Telekom Regulierungs GmbH, 2012). As of January 2004 KommAustria added print media and journalism to its list of regulated industries. If KommAustria finds any material which is in breach of the laws it enforces, than it has the power to make the issue an administrative court matter, although usually after giving the offending business time to make amends for the indiscretion. One of the most recent cases was raised by Austrian newspaper publishers who complained that the ORF’s presence on the social networking site Facebook, arguing that it them “an unfair competitive edge against private broadcast and print media” (, 2012) Following an investigation by KommAustria the company was ordered to remove its Facebook pages.
  1. Rundfunk & Telekom Regulierungs GmbH, 2012, KommAustria, Accessed: 15/8/12,
  2., 2012, Austria state broadcaster closes Facebook sites, Accessed: 15/8/12,

Media autonomy is risky in the sense that part of that power became a structural power, a consequence of the inherent importance of a particular section of society, such as the role of the media in reporting on politics. Part of that structural power is the ability of the media to filter and construct their own vision. Therefore, Media regulations must be regularly reinforced to ensure a diversity of flow of information reaching the wider audience.The biggest media regulator KommAustria is supported and reinforced by the Rundfunk- und Telekomm-Regulierungs GmbH (RTR). RTR is the the secretariat of KommAustria and they are involved in the implementation of the press subsidy scheme, the Fund for Digitalisation and several other duties. It publishes a useful yearbook on the development of the media and telecommunication sector in Austria. It is on their official website

Bundeskommunikationssenat (BKS)

The Bundeskommunikationssenat (BKS) roughly translates to the "Federal Communications Senate", and is the predominant authority which regulates broadcasting media in Austria. The BKS bases its decisions around the legislation of:
  • Audiovisual Media Services Act
  • Private Radio Act
  • ORF Law
  • Exclusive Television Rights Act
  • Telecom Act
Overall, decisions made by the BKS are legally binding, and difficult to appeal. Essentially, the BKS is the court of appeal for any decision made by the KommAustria, and remains a key regulatory body in the Austrian media landscape.

  1. Austrian Federal Office, 2012, Broadcasting Authorities, Accessed 14th Aug 2012, <>
  2. European Journalism Centre, 2012, Austrian Media Landscape, Accessed 14th August 2012, <>