Austria net fears Teuton rivals

ORF forecast of 2005 ad revenue drops 4%

COLOGNE — Ad coin at Austrian pubcaster ORF is set to drop due to increased competition from Teutonic rivals.

ORF has forecast ad revenues in 2005 of €292.1 million ($388 million), down 4%, due to a cut in ad rates from Jan. 2005. Including viewers’ fees, income will total $1.023 billion. Spending will hold steady, keeping the company in the black.

An ORF spokesman said product placement and sponsorship, which amounted to $53 million this year, could be hit by a change in government rules. “The state’s regulatory body might set stricter controls, which could lead to a loss in sales of $40 million,” he told Daily Variety.

The pubcaster is particularly worried about competition from Germany’s large commercial TV groups ProSiebenSat.1 and RTL, which broadcast blurbs targeted at Austrian auds. “The rise in Austrian households with digital satellite receivers has opened up the market to the German webs, which offer lower ad rates than ORF,” the spokesman said. The Teutonic rivals reach 45% of Austrian viewers.

ORF plans to spend $332 million on original production, including in-house productions and those made with production partners. It has budgeted $160 million for program acquisitions, including sports rights.

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