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Audio-visual media

Public broadcasting

The broadcasting landscape is dominated by ORF, the public market leading channel, which is established as a public foundation.
It belongs to its core missions to adequately consider the significance of the legally recognised churches and religious societies in its programme, see §4(1) of the Law on ORF. This includes both major events and doctrinal contents.
Both programme and commercial communication must not – inter alia – provoke hatred against religions, see §10(2) and §13(3).
Legally recognised churches and religious societies are (partially) represented on two boards:
- the foundation council
- the audience council which issues recommendations concerning the programme
According to §28(3) the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church are entitled to nominate an ordinary member to the audience council each. The audience council nominates six members to the foundation council, one of whom has to stem from the realm of the legally recognised churches and religious societies; see §20(1) and §30(1) leg. cit.

Private broadcasting

Although bodies corporate of public law are generally excluded from offering audio-visual media services by §10(2) of the Law on Audiovisual Media Services (AMD-G), legally recognised churches and religious societies, which do have this very legal status, are explicitly exempt from the aforementioned exclusion.
An analogous provision is laid down in § 8 of the Private Radio Act (PrR-G), concerning private radio broadcasting.
There are two ecclesiastical radio stations functioning:
- Radio Stephansdom, run by an ecclesiastical foundation of the Archdiocese of Vienna broadcasting in Vienna and Salzburg;
- Radio Maria Austria, broadcasting in Carinthia, the Tyrol, Lower Austria and Vienna, and through satellite all over Austria.

Programme contents and commercials

Any programme, television or radio, public or private must not incite to hatred on the grounds of religion, see §10(2) ORF-G, §30(2) AMD-G, §16(4) PrR-G.
Furthermore, it is prohibited to interrupt the broadcasting of religious services and other programmes of religious contents by commercial breaks or teleshopping, see §15(3) ORF-G, §44(4) AMD-G, §19(6) PrR-G.
§14(3) ORF-G forbids the broadcasting of commercials on the public programmes on Good Friday, 1 November and 24 December. Private broadcasters are not restricted likewise.
Commercial communication must not discriminate inter alia on the grounds of religion, see §13(3) ORF-G, §31(3) AMD-G.

26 July 2012