European Federation of Journalists

EFJ calls on Austrian government to protect public service media

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) sent a letter to Gernot Blümel, Austrian Minister for the European Union (EU), Art, Culture and Media on 7 June 2018 to urge him to support the Austrian public service media (ORF). The EFJ annual meeting, which took place yesterday in Lisbon with affiliates, journalists and trade unionists from around 40 countries, unanomously adopted the resolution “On the situation of Austrian public service media with letter to the Austrian governement” calling on the Austrian government to ensure the future of the public service media. We stand in solidarity with our Austrian affiliate the Union of Private Sector Employees, Graphical Workers and Journalists (GPA-DJP) who call on Minister Blümel to guarantee future financing and to send a clear signal defending public service media in Austria.

Letter to Minister Magister Blümel

Dear Minister Mag. Blümel,

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has been informed by our affiliate in Austria, the Union of Private Sector Employees, Graphical Workers and Journalists (GPA-DJP) that today your office in Vienna has started looking into the future of mass media, especially public service media in Austria.

We share our Austrian affiliate’s grave concern that this review is the first step in a process to introduce brutal cuts in the Austrian public service media (ORF). We urgently ask you to guarantee the further financing of Austrian public service media. Given the financing through advertisement is substantially decreasing, we suggest a fee system adjusted to the annual inflation rate. We oppose restrictions concerning the ORF in online media because in order to support innovation and guarantee the future of the public service media, advertisement revenue is crucial.

We further urge you to stop all personal intimidations and physical threats against journalists of the ORF and other media, by senior officials of your coalition partner, the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ). This absolutely intolerable practice cannot be accepted.

Dear Minister, we presume that Austria is proud of its long tradition of  press freedom, quality journalism and a public service media which is widely respected, beyond its borders. Quality journalism is more important now than ever before, especially in current times when social media is increasingly dominated by so-called “fake news” and hate speech. We are looking forward to receiving a clear signal from you, Mr. Minister Blümel, defending the public service media in Austria.

With kind regards,

Mogens Blicher Bjerregård

President of the EFJ