AMARC Europe reacted to the amendment of the Austrian private broadcasting fund with a statement. Read the full statement in English below or download the statement in Anglais ou Allemand


Austrian Federal Ministry European Union, Art, Culture and Media

Ballhausplatz 2

1010 Vienna


Brussels, 23RD May 2019

Increase of the Private Broadcasting Fund and Amendment of the KommAustria Act of 6 May 2019

Dear Mr Blümel,

Dear Federal Government of the Republic of Austria,

AMARC Europe (Association Mondiale des Radiodiffuseurs Communautaires Europe) is the European representation of the World Association of Community Radios. Community Radios are non-commercial, locally embedded and non-profit organisations that promote freedom of expression and democratic participation, impart media skills and contribute to a pluralistic media landscape. These are initiatives that strengthen civil society especially minorities who have no voice in the mainstream media. The Community Media sector is internationally recognised as the third media sector alongside the public and private commercial media sector

AMARC is a global Community Radio network with 4,000 members including radio stations, interest groups and associations in more than 130 countries. In Europe, the network consists of more than 300 members (radio stations and national interest groups) in 23 countries. AMARC advocates for the right to communicate at the international, national and local level and promotes the interests of community radios as a fundamental aspect of media pluralism, the promotion of democracy and social participation.

Therefore, we observe with concern the current developments in Austria. The sole increase of the financial means for the promotion of the private commercial media sector stands in contrast to the findings and the appreciations the community media have experienced as an integral part of vital democracies on a European and international level. In this context, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe 2018 in its Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)1 under item 2.11. advocates the promotion and expansion of community media structures:

“States should encourage and support the establishment and functioning of minority, regional, local and not-for-profit community media, including by providing financial mechanisms to foster their development. Such independent media give a voice to communities and individuals on topics relevant to their needs and interests, and are thus instrumental in creating public exposure for issues that may not be represented in the mainstream media and in facilitating inclusive and participatory processes of dialogue within and across communities and at regional and local levels.”

The European Parliament states on the role of community media in the European Union in its resolution on media pluralism and freedom (2017/2209(INI)) under point 1 on 3 May 2018:

“The European Parliament calls on the Member States to take appropriate measures, including ensuring adequate public funding, to safeguard and promote a pluralist, independent and free media landscape in the service of democratic society, including the independence and sustainability of public service media and community media and grassroots media, which are crucial elements of a favourable environment for guaranteeing the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information”.

Thus, AMARC Europe demands a strong commitment of the Austrian Federal Government to support the non-commercial media sector in Austria and to value its contributions to social cohesion, strengthening democratic structures, access to information and freedom of expression.

Thus, AMARC Europe fully supports the demands of the Federation of Community Radios in Austria (VFRÖ – Verband Freier Radios Österreich) and calls for an increase of the fund for the promotion of non-commercial broadcasting from €3 million to €5.5 million in order to guarantee the safeguarding and expansion of non-commercial broadcasting in Austria, media diversity, low-threshold access to local media and information offerings and the mediation of critical media skills.

In this context, AMARC Europe offers its extensive expertise to contribute to the promotion of the community radio sector in Austria and welcomes an answer to this statement.

Yours sincerely

AMARC Europe

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 of the Austrian National Parliament decided with a large majority to increase the funding for commercial private television and radio stations by five million euros: from 15 to 20 million annually. The additional funds are to “particularly benefit TV formats that promote democratic understanding, social and political information and education or […] the transfer of media competence as a basis for understanding democratic media education processes”.

Josef Seethaler is Deputy Director of the Institute for Comparative Media and Communication Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Alpen-Adria University in Klagenfurt. His research focuses on political communication, political participation, media system analysis, media and communication history, and scientific communication.

Quality of content, training, media competence

This is undoubtedly a step forward compared with previous funding practice: after all, the terms “democracy” and “democratic” did not appear at all in the guidelines of the Fund for the Promotion of Private Commercial Broadcasting. But what a major media policy coup this would have been if all media funding in Austria had been placed on a democratically relevant basis: on the quality of content, the training of media professionals and the teaching of critical media competence (To say nothing of an equally necessary reform of advertising rules for the public sector). This demand was raised in numerous studies commissioned by the Austrian Federal Chancellery or the Austrian Regulatory Institution (RTR). This chance has been missed once again. But not only that. Moreover, it seems the Austrian legislator has forgotten the non-commercial broadcasters, which are regulated by the same law.

20 years after the licensing of the first “free radios” in Austria

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.

membres du conseil AMARC et représentant WIN Xenia Helms a assisté à la 8e Édition de Civilmedia17: Unconference pour les médias communautaires et la société civile et # Mediana-Konferenz qui aura lieu 15-17 Juin à à partir de Salzbourg, en Autriche. La presque exclusivement événement de langue allemande sous le titre « Mach mit, la nach de mach, le besser de mach » a attiré environ 150 amateurs de radio et professionnels d'environ 11 pays, dont les pays d'origine des participants réfugiés. La conférence de trois jours composé de 33 ateliers, conférences et rassemblements.

Le jour 1, Civilmedia17 axait sur le travail des médias des migrants et des réfugiés sous la demande de « Voix d'inclusion », alors que les autochtones en même temps assumaient des offres d'éducation en interne, l'échange interne sur la station et le niveau de rédaction et comme d'étudier les moyens de se connecter et de réseau. Jour 2 a pris fin avec le Civilmedia Show Award & Party, l'attribution quatre productions de médias communautaires autrichiens dans les catégories « L'accès et autonomisation » et « Entertainment & Arts », choisis par un jury de 20 contributions présélectionnés de 100 soumissions au total.

Through panels and workshops the participants discussed the working and social-political conditions as well as ways to expand and improve existing structures for free and community media in Austria. Xenia Helms participated in several formats that covered topics ranging from gender mainstreaming and diversity and the age gap to networking and interdisciplinary approaches. The panel discussion “Freie Radios – mehr als alte weiße Männer?!” attracted a wide spectrum of the participants, including old white males. Sad to say, many interested and affected non-German speakers, such as Indian UNESCO chairman Vinod Paravala, Kenian radio researcher Rose Kermani or Serbian Balkan Radio Network-founder Vladimir Radinovic and most of the refugee participants of “Voices of Inclusion” were excluded from most content despite the urgent request by Helms to offer whispering interpretation from German to English, which could not be organized by the conference hosts in Salzburg. Questionable is also the success of the concept of unconference which according to the organisers meant"la réunion est ouverte à propositions » puisque la plupart des créneaux horaires ont présenté un contenu plutôt classique qui ne semblait pas varier beaucoup des nombreuses activités de l'atelier à des radios libres autrichiens et de la télévision communautaire.

calendrier Civilmedia17 /

Reprise officielle par Radiofabrik, Salzbourg / Communiqués de presse /2017 / la were-civile-et- médiasmediana17-a-visée arrièreCommuniqué de presse-fs1-Radiofabrik-radio-fro.html

captchaHow can community media best use and develop online archives to more easily share and preserve their programs? Four institutions from Austria, Germany, Hungary and Ireland are developing contemporary archiving strategies for community media in the framework of the EU Culture programme-funded CAPTCHA project. The partners analyse existing strategies, search for best practice examples, and organize workshops and conferences in order to identify innovative solutions for the legal, technical and economic challenges community media face in terms of archiving.

We would like to invite you to follow our activities, participate in our events, and take part in our discussions online and offline!

Se il vous plaît trouver plus d'informations sur le projet de CAPTCHA dans le communiqué de presse ci-dessous ou bilingue sur notre site . You can also find us on Facebook at

The first CAPTCHA conference will take place soon! “ARCHIVIA 14: Online Archives for Cultural Diversity in Europe!” will be held on 6-7 September 2014 in the framework of the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. The organizers invite community media, private and public libraries, museums and archives from all over Europe to take part. You can find more information in the attached open call and on