Territory report: Austria

Austria preps for new net and austerity

PRAGUE — Following the passage a new broadcasting law that at last clears the way for private terrestrial TV in Austria, attention is now on the Nov. 7 tender deadline. But most players are busy denying their interest.

“No one will place a bid even a day earlier,” says Tillmann Fuchs, general manager of private national cable channel ATV, which has placed its hopes on winning a national terrestrial license.

ATV is backed by two European players, SBS Broadcasting and Herbert Kloiber, head of Germany’s Tele Munchen. The two other near-certain bidders also have media ties: Goldstar TV, co-owned by Kirch and connected with Premiere World; and the Austria’s Raffeissen Bank, which has publishing interests.

A decision is due in early February.

Meanwhile, ATV is gearing up for a May 1 launch. “We’re saving money and product until we have the license,” says Fuchs.

On the acquisitions front, pubcaster ORF continues to follow a broad buying strategy to fill its two channels, and ATV buys action series and cartoons from German and American suppliers.

ORF spent the past six months grappling with budget cuts and a drop in Austrian currency. Fortunately, says Elfriede Hufnagl, head of sales and acquisitions, a price decrease in product acquired through German licensing companies has helped ease the pain.

TV homes:3.1 million

Cable homes:1.2 million

Satellite homes:1.3 million

Local programming:54%

Top show:“Bully From Toelz” on ORF

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