Startup bucks establishment

PRAGUE — Living in the shadow of a giant hasn’t been easy, but with German companies in a state of flux, Austrian stations are becoming more attractive to program sellers.

“Austria was overlooked as too marginal in the past,” says ORF head of sales and acquisitions Elfriede Hufnagl, who expects more deals to be made directly with production companies, rather than through a German middleman.

Sellers should expect to see a crop of new faces from ORF, with recently appointed general director Monika Lindner having made sweeping changes in the station’s exec ranks.

Newcomer ATV, which won Austria’s first private terrestrial license earlier this year, also will be making its presence known at Mip.

The station will likely make several purchases at Mip, says head buyer Roman Rinner .

While ORF can pay five or six times higher prices than ATV, Rinner says that will change as the station fights for blockbuster films and begins making volume deals with major suppliers.

The biggest competition for sellers will be Austrian productions, as broadcasters fight off the German challenge by establishing local identities with homegrown fare.

ORF claims the country’s most popular series, “Julia,” an hourlong inhouse drama about a small-town judge.

ATV is placing its hopes on younger, edgier inhouse shows.

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