Austrian Broadcasting System

   Österreichische Rundfunk
   Reconstituted after World War II, the Austrian radio network made political impartiality a central goal. Communists were among its initial editors; one radio program was the Russian Hour. On the other hand, the powers that oversaw the occupation kept their hand in broadcast media operations—the Americans had their own station in Linz and Salzburg, Red-WhiteRed (Rot-Weiß-Rot) the color of the Austrian flag, and the British controlled the transmission station in Graz.
   All of this ended by 1954. The ÖRF, formally established as a nationalized service in 1957, was already in operation by 1955. The first Austrian television program, carried through transmitters in Vienna, Graz, and Linz, went out in August 1955. Daily TV programming was available by 1959; commercial advertising slots were introduced the same year.
   The system often suffered from fiscal shortfalls, and early hopes for nonpartisan operation faded quickly as well. Proporz, the custom of giving parties equal treatment in government jobs, impinged upon all nationalized enterprises, television and radio among them. Public criticism of the quality and political slant of programming became routine after March 1963, when the major parties formally agreed to observe Proporz when distributing positions in Austrian broadcasting. An influential Vienna daily, the Neuer Kurier, began a protest campaign that not only won support from other influential print media, but numerous letters, telegrams, and telephone messages from listeners and viewers. The effort led to the first referendum of the Second Austrian Republic in 1964, asking for reform of the ÖRF. In 2001, the ÖRF laid down rules for private TV channels. It was also transformed into a foundation under the direction of a council, an arrangement that in no way put an end to political wrangling over control of the system. The choice of general director in 2006 was hotly contested between the Socialist Party of Austria and the Austrian People’s Party.
   See also Communications; Press.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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