KommAustria is responsible for a wide range of regulatory matters in the area of media services. They include the regulation of market access for broadcasters (such as granting licences) and the administration of the frequency spectrum, which are closely connected, as well as legal supervision of broadcasters and media service providers, regulation of competition for broadcasting infrastructure, and supporting the transition to digital broadcasting on all platforms. All of these tasks are also closely related to KommAustria's other responsibilities in the area of media subsidies.
In general, all broadcasting (radio, television and on-demand services), whether private or public, in all forms of transmission (terrestrial, cable, satellite or internet), digital and analogue, both at the level of programme providers and at the level of transmission networks and services, falls within the purview of KommAustria. The only exception to this are the radio installations themselves, which are supervised by the Telecommunications Authority.
Information on KommAustria as competent supervisory authority for platforms is available here. If you are interested in RTR's tasks as a complaints and service body for platforms, accessibility and media literacy, you can find more information here.
Television, radio and internet providers require a licence under broadcasting law.
Austrian broadcasting law provides for different kinds of official authorisation for private media service providers with the notification of services and the approval of services. The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) has a special system for the approval of new services: the prior evaluation procedure.
Broadcasting providers require KommAustria's approval for changes to their existing services.
Austrian broadcasting law provides for an approval process by KommAustria when a private media service provider wishes to change the nature of their programming, distribute a programme via other platforms, or make changes to the allocation of channels of a multiplex platform.
Media regulation is a multifaceted field and ensures diversity of opinion.
KommAustria's tasks in the area of media regulation are varied and important for us all. This is also reflected in KommAustria's legally defined objectives, as well as in its areas of activity, which range from regulating market access for broadcasters (such as granting licences) and the closely related administration of the frequency spectrum to the legal supervision of broadcasters and media service providers in the interest of both preserving competition between providers or protecting the consumers of media services to regulating competition for broadcasting infrastructure and supporting the transition to digital broadcasting on all platforms.
In general, all broadcasting (radio, television and on-demand services), whether private or public, in all forms of transmission (terrestrial, cable, satellite or internet), digital and analogue, both at the level of programme providers and at the level of transmission networks and services, falls within the purview of KommAustria. The only exception to this are radio installations, which are supervised by the Telecommunications Authority.
KommAustria is responsible for exercising legal supervision of private broadcasters and media service providers (and multiplex providers) pursuant to the Private Radio Broadcasting Act and the Audiovisual Media Services Act as well as the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) and its subsidiaries pursuant to the ORF Act.
KommAustria can take action upon receiving a complaint (under certain legally defined conditions), upon application (regarding the ORF), or ex officio to address violations.
Such proceedings may result in an administrative decision confirming that a violation has taken place; however, in repeated and serious cases (with the exception of the ORF), the licence may be withdrawn or a radio event or media service prohibited as a final consequence. In the event of persistent violations of the law by one of the ORF's bodies, KommAustria can revoke the decision in question, and a situation that complies with KommAustria's legal opinion must be restored without delay. In the event of refusal, the body may be dismissed or dissolved.
In addition, KommAustria can conduct administrative penal proceedings ex officio. In this case, the proceedings may lead to the imposition of fines on the person or persons responsible, e.g. when broadcasting without a licence ("pirate radio").
In certain cases, KommAustria may recover unlawfully obtained economic advantages from the ORF.
When a licence is granted to a private broadcaster, the programming concept enclosed in their application is approved by administrative decision. As a rule, the programming concept plays a deciding role when choosing between several suitable applicants for a free transmission capacity. If a licence holder later wants to fundamentally alter the character of their programming, they may only do so under certain conditions after special proceedings. If the character of a provider's programming is altered fundamentally without approval, their licence may be revoked.
Both KommAustria and RTR perform numerous tasks in the Austrian media system. However, there are also other national and international institutions that influence the Austrian media system.
KommAustria's tasks in the media sector range from the regulation of electronic audio media and electronic audiovisual media to the supervision of public broadcasting, i.e. ORF and its subsidiaries, private television stations, private radio stations, operators of YouTube channels and more. In addition to these regulatory tasks, KommAustria is also responsible for awarding press and journalism subsidies. All responsibilities can be found in the KommAustria Act.
In order to fulfil its tasks, KommAustria uses the services of RTR, which provides operative support. In addition to this, RTR's Media Division also awards numerous subsidies.
However, there are also many other institutions that are relevant for media regulation and subsidies in the sphere of KommAustria and RTR, at both the national and international levels.