Austria | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The federal constitution and the Media Law of 1981 provide the basis for free media. Seldom-used legal restrictions are in place that forbid reporting deemed detrimental to morality or national security. Libel and slander laws protect politicians and other government officials and in some cases lead to self-censorship. Amendments to the Private Television Act entered into force on August 1, 2004, and for the first time, nationwide private broadcasters are allowed to function. The state-owned Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) is now required to share one of its television frequencies with a new private commercial broadcaster, PULS TV, which went on the air in June 2004. Cable networks are required to rebroadcast nationwide programs, including ORF programs, and some regional programs. The broadcast media remain dominated by the ORF, which operates two television stations and four radio channels that provide balanced news coverage. However, cable and satellite offer access to a variety of German-language channels. Daily newspapers, both national and regional, have significant circulation and compete intensely. Foreign investors have a solid presence in the market, and ownership concentration is high; many radio stations have ties to print outlets in addition to ownership links between daily papers and weeklies. Press subsidies help newspapers survive and are designed to encourage pluralism. Internet access is unrestricted and widely available.