GIS task force delivered results on ORF fee cancellations

In its first meeting on Thursday, the ORF Foundation Council, under the new chairman Lothar Lockl, will devote itself to an adapted editorial statute that provides more rights for the workforce. The growing streaming gap and the continued negative forecast for the ORF annual financial statements will also be an issue. The relocation of the information staff to the multimedia newsroom went well to the satisfaction of ORF General Director Roland Weißmann and several board members.

The first forecast for the ORF annual financial statements provided for a minus of EUR 11.9 million. This still applies, a second one is coming next month, ORF boss Weißmann told APA. “Of course we continue to work on a black zero,” he explained. Measures such as holiday cuts for employees have got off to a good start, and will be tightened up and further measures taken by the end of the year. Thomas Zach, head of the ÖVP “Freundeskreis” on the board of trustees, said that the forecast minus should be seen in relation to sales of around one billion. The management lies in the solution competence of the management. Sigrid Pilz, who speaks for the Green “Freundeskreis”, saw a difficult financial situation, which was discussed “relentlessly” in the finance committee of the foundation board on Monday.

Changed user behavior

The reason for the forecast minus is, among other things, the streaming gap. This means that people who use ORF offers via streaming but not via television or radio do not have to pay a program fee. A task force should search for motives for GIS deregistrations and determine how the number of fee payers can be increased. The first results were reported to the finance committee. Accordingly, the streaming gap will probably continue to grow, which is due to changed user behavior. But recent inflation is also likely to have played a role in deregistrations.

Weißmann wants to take countermeasures

Weißmann announced the promotion of countermeasures. But: “Without the legal closure of the streaming gap, it will be difficult.” After all, the streaming offer is constantly being expanded, which is a “tactical dilemma”, according to the ORF boss. Pilz also said that the ORF could continue to optimize costs, but with regard to the streaming gap at the end of the day “urgent political activity” was required. The SPÖ “friends group leader” Heinz Lederer expected in conversation with the APA “with all understanding for analysis” a course of action from the management. He sensed her lack of imagination. “I find it too one-dimensional to just push to slow GIS logoffs.” He could imagine goodies for people who, for example, get their family to register.

Editorial statute “not yet finished”

In the meeting on Thursday, the ORF editorial statute is also on the agenda. The 35 members of the board of trustees must first approve the changes made by Weißmann in consultation with the editorial board before they can come into force. The amendments to the statutes provide many new rights for editors – such as expressing no confidence in a manager after three complaints or extended information and hearing rights in the case of appointments. Zach didn’t want to preempt the Board of Trustees’ decision on this. The relevant report will be listened to. Dieter Bornemann, Chairman of the ORF Editors’ Council, is invited to the meeting. Lederer saw the changes on the “home straight, but not there yet”. Decisive passages still have to be explained to the councillors. He mentioned chains of responsibility as a keyword.

Weißmann satisfied with relocation

Around 350 people have now started working in the new multimedia newsroom on the Küniglberg. The move “worked very well,” said Weißmann. “Logistically, it was a huge challenge because the relocation was carried out in real operations. But thanks to the editors and the in-house technicians, it worked well,” he said. Zach also has an “exclusively positive perception”. Pilz had the impression that the ORF employees had arrived safely and that the relocation had been well prepared. However, she warned to continue to pay attention to plurality in reporting. Lederer spoke of an “excellent impression”. “Of course there will be friction losses, but I hope they resolve into a win-win situation,” he said.

The SPÖ “Freundeskreis leader” also announced that he would ask the management to explain the “parallel world” consisting of a few hundred temporary workers and fee recipients in more detail by September. One wants to see whether there is savings potential through reintegration into the company.

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