Channels, streamer and acquisitions under threat as ORF eyes €300m savings

Roland Weissmann

Roland Weissmann

Reports coming out of Austria suggest that public broadcaster ORF is looking to find €300 million in savings over the next three years. While the broadcaster is seeking to protect programming budgets as far as possible, one likely casualty will be thematic sports channel ORF Sport +, which has been running since 2006. Streaming platform Flimmit, linear channel ORF3 and the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra have also been suggested as areas that could be axed as ORF starts to make cuts to services.

The pressure to make savings comes as ORF attempts to reach a new licence fee settlement with the Austrian government. Despite a backdrop of high inflation, the government is not expected to give the broadcaster any more money – which means ORF’s senior management team have to find ways to make ends meet through savings. ORF director general Roland Weißmann has call it “a difficult situation”.

Pressure to find savings comes as ORF is also seeking to combat competition from digital platforms like Netflix and Google. As part of its planned shake-up, ORF says it wants to become “more digital, more transparent, more Austrian.” Sports content that used to be shown on ORF Sport+ will move to ORF1 or digital platforms (depending on its level of appeal). Other areas being scrutinised for cuts include staff salary levels and content acquisitions – with expenditure on US series likely to be reduced.

ORF also generates revenue from advertising – but with the ad market weak across Europe this is unlikely to provide much of a solution in the short term.

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