Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2017, 15:16 GMT

Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2004 - Austria

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Without Borders Annual Report 2004 - Austria, 2004, available at: [accessed 18 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The heavy politicisation of public broadcasting and very narrow ownership of the print media is still a potential threat to press freedom.

The public TV and radio body, ORF, remains strongly politicised. Its monitoring council contains no politicians but all 35 members are named by political parties, which maintains in practice the dominance of the ruling Christian conservative ÖVP and the far-right populist FPÖ.

A growing number of ORF journalists criticised (anonymously) the lack of editorial independence and increasing power of the politicians. Since the ORF's broadcasting monopoly ended in 2002, a privately-owned nationwide TV station, atv+, has been set up. The advent of digital TV should boost further such broadcasting diversity, but the ORF still has a virtual monopoly and remains the country's most influential media.

The narrow ownership of the written press is still excessive. Most magazines belonging to the Fellner group which, through the German company Gruner & Jahr, is part of the Bertelsmann media empire, while the Mediaprint group controls most daily papers. The independent press council watchdog body has not been replaced since its abolition in June 2002. However, the system of media subsidies, handed out depending on the profitability and political leanings of a media outlet, was reformed.

Harassment and obstruction

A national "integration treaty" aimed at foreigners has, since 1 January 2003, obliged journalists to show their fluency in German to obtain a residence permit. After criticism from the Foreign Press Association, the authorities dropped the requirement for accredited coverage of official occasions.

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