In May 2019 the Austrian government increased the funding for the private media sector by € 5 million. However, this substantial increase will solely benefit the commercial private media sector – the funding for the community media sector remains the same. AMARC Europe invited Josef Seethaler to discuss the impact of these changes on the Austrian Community Radio sector. AMARC Europe reacted to this biased amendment of funding of the Austrian private broadcasting sector with a statement to the Austrian government in Anglais et Allemand.

On 6 May 2019, the Constitutional Committee du Parlement national autrichien a décidé à une large majorité d'augmenter le financement pour les stations de télévision et de radio privées commerciales de cinq millions d'euros: de 15 à 20 millions par an. Les fonds supplémentaires sont « en particulier les formats de télévision avantages qui favorisent la compréhension démocratique, l'information sociale et politique et de l'éducation ou [...] le transfert des compétences des médias comme base pour les processus d'éducation aux médias démocratiques compréhension ».

Josef Seethaler est directeur adjoint de l'Institut pour la recherche comparative des médias et de la communication de l'Académie autrichienne des sciences et de l'Université Alpen-Adria à Klagenfurt. Ses recherches portent sur la communication politique, la participation politique, l'analyse du système des médias, des médias et de l'histoire de la communication et de la communication scientifique.

La qualité du contenu, la formation, la compétence médiatique

Ceci est sans aucun doute un pas en avant par rapport à la pratique de financement antérieur: après tout, les termes « démocratie » et « démocratiques » ne figuraient pas du tout dans les lignes directrices de la Fonds pour la promotion de la radiodiffusion commerciale privée. Mais qu'est-ce un coup majeur de la politique médiatique cela aurait été si l'ensemble du financement des médias en Autriche avaient été placées sur une base démocratique pertinente: sur la qualité du contenu, la formation des professionnels des médias et l'enseignement des compétences des médias critiques (Pour ne rien dire d'un réforme tout aussi nécessaire des règles de publicité pour le secteur public). Cette demande a été soulevée dans de nombreuses études commandées par la Chancellerie fédérale autrichienne ou l'institution de réglementation autrichienne (RTR). Cette chance a été manquée une nouvelle fois. Mais pas seulement. De plus, il semble que le législateur autrichien a oublié les radiodiffuseurs non commerciaux, qui sont régis par la même loi.

20 ans après l'autorisation des premières « radios libres » en Autriche

Non-commercial private broadcasting in Austria has established itself as an institution in the media landscape – as the third pillar of the broadcasting landscape – alongside public and private commercial broadcasters. In recent years studies commissioned by RTR have shown on several occasions that they are an indispensable part of a pluralistic media landscape in the Austrian democracy. 14 free radios and three free television stations are currently operational all over Austria. Their activities are not profit-oriented, and they follow the principle of a programme without commercial product advertising. So, if advertising as media content is important to anyone, it will not be served by non-commercial broadcasting. It offers a different solution (underpinned by RTR studies):

– They offer individuals and civil society groups an open platform to freely express their opinions, concerns and interests.

– They promote civil society discourse, the willingness to engage in society and it promotes social cohesion. Diversity of opinion, social dialogue, equal rights and tolerance are not preached, but realised on a daily basis.

– They give a voice to social groups that are otherwise underrepresented in the public sphere and thus integrating them into social coexistence. Accessibility is not just a buzzword here.

– Non-commercial radios are proximity media and can respond to the information needs of local communities like hardly any other media in this context. In this way it sensitises the public to topics that are hardly represented in the mainstream media.

– Through this transparent and lively relationship between “media makers” and “audiences” (whose roles intertwine), they ultimately promote media competence as an ability to deal critically with media and their content

In English, the term “community media” is often used when it comes to non-profit media. This term hits the heart of the matter: the promotion of integrative and participative processes within and between local communities is at the centre of media work. The contribution this makes to strengthening identification with our democratic development cannot be overestimated.

Political disenchantment

A democracy based solely on elections and party representation (important as both are) is part of the problem of political disenchantment, not part of the solution. More and more young people want to participate in political processes. The “Fridays for Future” movement is an expression of this, but only one of many. This participation, as political scientists like Colin Crouch (“post-democracy”) show, will be feasible above all in the local space: in our own living environment, whose advantages and problems we know. If we experience democracy there, we will have confidence in it. Let us strengthen the role of non-commercial media! They currently receive only one fifth (!) of the funding for commercial broadcasting in Austria. An increase in this already low amount is paramount in terms of democratic policy. Media policy action is called for in order to make appropriate changes to the government bill before the National Council takes its decision.