Television – ORF Board of Trustees: Multimedia newsroom needs improvement

The ORF Board of Trustees dealt with the multimedia newsroom under construction on Thursday. According to Thomas Zach, head of the civic “Circle of Friends” in the top body of the media company, this has been “put to the test” as the “greatest change in the ORF in decades”. He was “not adequately prepared”. “There is still a long way to go,” said Zach. General director Alexander Wrabetz sees the ORF “on course”.

The establishment of the multimedia newsroom means the “greatest change in work processes in decades”. Zach expects the management to deal with and work closely with the journalists concerned. The aim is to strengthen the diversity of opinion. “We will deal with this topic again in June and see whether there has been any improvement,” announced the bourgeois board of trustees. “Time is of the essence,” said Zach. Heinz Lederer, head of the SPÖ “Circle of Friends”, said that the newsroom is on the right track, but that many tasks still have to be clarified in detail.

Editor-in-chief not desired in the newsroom

According to Zach, it was made clear that a central editor-in-chief in the multimedia newsroom would not find approval. The Board of Trustees sent by the Greens, Lothar Lockl, also saw a “clear commitment to plurality and diversity” from the management. He was pleased that the ORF will focus on the search for and training of young employees in the next few years. The ORF’s already announced trainee program, with which many “natural departures” will be compensated for in the next few years, should only be a first step, which will be followed by others.

Lederer emphasized that attention should be paid to multimedia when recruiting. Last but not least, you also need companions and coaches for the trainees who can do justice to this task. The level of collective bargaining worries him that it is not competitive. “It is important that we get the best and that they find the best conditions,” said the Board of Trustees.

Competition from Netflix and Co. is growing

The SPÖ “Freundeskreis” reacts “very sensitively” to the “today clearly addressed audiovisual competition” with Netflix and Co. The ORF player must start and an amendment to the law that is necessary for full development to come before the summer. Anything that can be implemented without a law should be established as quickly as possible. That would create loyalty among the young target audience and strengthen the negotiating position vis-à-vis the government, said Lederer. Lockl saw the local media location “like on an ice floe that is melting”. You need suitable framework conditions, but also your own efforts to reach younger people.

The ORF general director Alexander Wrabetz saw the largest media company in the country “on course in all areas”, as he was quoted in a broadcast following the board of trustees meeting. Despite the challenging corona situation, broadcasting operations were secured, market leadership was maintained in the radio, TV and online sectors and an impending loss scenario of 75 million euros was averted. Audience confidence is at a record level.

Level playing field

Wrabetz saw the “platform age” finally dawning. “In the USA, streaming providers were used more than traditional broadcasters for the first time. The Corona crisis accelerated this development,” said the ORF General Director. It is “essential” to create a level playing field for everyone so that national media markets can exist.

According to the preliminary annual financial statements for 2020, the ORF parent company achieved an operating result of 7.7 million euros. The operating ORF group result amounts to 22.3 million euros. The sales of the ORF parent company were around 966 million euros in the previous year – of which around 645 million euros came from program fees and 200 million from advertising. The latter stabilized in the second half of the year after having previously declined. (apa)

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