Viva reveals Austrian visions

A German music television broadcaster has disclosed plans to introduce Austrian contents.

Viva officials said yesterday (Weds) they wanted to add more music by Austrian artists to the programme soon. The plan is to set up Viva Austria, a specialised programme which screens Austrian chart shows on the same channel as Viva.

Around 15 per cent of all music clips broadcasted by Viva should have an Austrian background, according to the station’s new concept. Programme planners promised to offer a “broad spectrum” of the Austrian music scene while Viva marketing managers made aware of positive effects for the music industry and firms interested in cooperating with the channel regarding commercials.

Viva prides itself with having played an important role in supporting the German music industry. Critical observers accuse the Berlin-based broadcaster and its rivals of focusing on increasing revenues from promotional partnerships and commercials. Some Central European music channels have been attacked by producers and artists over the increasing number of ringtone ads, comedy series and US American sitcoms.

Most of Germany’s leading television companies – including RTL and Sat.1 – offer programmes with Austrian content. They also succeed with primetime pop music casting formats and special chart music events like best-of shows about the 1980s and certain musical directions like Austropop, German rock and international summer hits.

Viva is a private company which does not charge its viewers. Pay TV channel Sky Austria offers a wide range of Hollywood movies and live football coverage. Austrian cable TV provider UPC recently started cooperating with Sky Austria. Austrian broadcaster ORF receives around 16 Euros a month from each household with cable or satellite TV and radio connection. TV consumers must pay another three to 10 Euros in charges to the country’s nine provincial governments, depending on where people reside. Regional decision-makers must subsidise local cultural institutions and artists with the revenues.

Styrians will have to pay 25.18 Euros a month as of 1 June. Residents of the western province of Vorarlberg with radio and satellite or cable TV will have to transfer 19.78 Euros instead of 18.61 Euros. Vorarlberg citizens currently pay the lowest ORF tax while Styrians are obliged to cough up the most a month.

The ORF’s private competitors attack the ORF for continuing to screen commercials despite the tax. They also accuse the state-funded station of ignoring its responsibility to offer a substantial number of documentaries, sophisticated films and news coverage. Many independent media observers think that the ORF’s programme hardly differs from what ATV and Puls 4 are offering. Especially those in charge of the contents of channel ORF 1 are under fire for offering mostly American comedy series and live sport like football and Formula One (F1).