As set out in Austrian law, the activities conducted by the KommAustria media authority and the RTR Media Division are funded jointly by the federal budget and by communications platform providers (service providers) for whom KommAustria is the competent authority. The financial contribution refers to the portion of funding contributed by those service providers.
The duties incumbent on KommAustria and the RTR Media Division as the authority’s administrative agency are numerous, and include tasks such as ensuring that user reports of illegal content are managed responsibly and in line with transparency standards, with immediate action taken in response. These activities make it easier for those affected to counter attacks launched against such platforms.
The obligation to contribute applies to all providers of communications platforms, whether based in Austria or another country, who in the previous year had more than 100,000 individuals authorised to use their platforms in Austria and who earned revenue exceeding EUR 500,000 in Austria from platform operations.
The financial contribution is not a fixed amount but a percentage of a particular company’s revenue in relation to overall industry revenue. In each individual case, the financial contribution is calculated by using the company’s net revenue as an initial base (excluding taxes and contributions not based on revenue).
How the financial contribution is calculated in each individual case is described in the following. First, the authority’s and RTR’s funding requirements for the coming year are determined, with market participants entitled to state their position. In this case, a budget ceiling has been defined by law for RTR. The amount RTR receives from the federal budget and the revenue RTR directly generates are subtracted from the funding requirements. The remaining amount must be covered through the financial contributions provided by the companies obliged to contribute. Those companies are in turn required to provide an estimate of their expected revenue in the coming year (this figure is then verified in the following year by querying the amount of revenue actually achieved; any surplus contribution paid earlier is credited, or notice is given of any contribution amount subsequently due). Overall industry revenue to be expected in the coming year can also be predicted based on the individual revenue. This also allows a specific company’s share in the overall industry revenue to be determined. The amount the company is required to provide as their share of the financial contribution is then determined on a pro-rated basis.
For example: After net revenue of EUR 100,000 in 2019, the company was required to pay a net financial contribution of EUR 527, based on an evaluation of the actual revenue.
Communications platforms are required to cover a share of the expenses incurred by KommAustria and the RTR Media Division in fulfilling their duties pursuant to the Communications Platforms Act (KoPl-G). To determine this share, the platforms are required to report their domestic revenues (earned in Austria) from commercial communications (revenues from online advertising).
Revenues earned from commercial communications in Austria:
- any and all revenues generated by the placement of advertising on a digital interface (meaning any kind of software, including websites or parts thereof and mobile apps),
- where such revenues are earned by displaying advertising on user devices assigned an Austrian IP address (this condition is sufficiently met by a link shown on a user’s device, even if the user does not immediately perceive—visually and/or acoustically—in full the online advertising),
- the above includes all revenues generated in Austria from commercial communications by the particular (multinational) group of companies to which the communications platform belongs,
- whereas this amount is to be reduced by digital tax and wholesale services rendered by third-party companies not to be considered part of this group of companies, as specified in the provisions of the Digital Tax Act 2020 (DiStG 2020).
Examples of revenues from commercial communications include proceeds from online advertising:
- regardless of the type of advertising medium employed (e.g. in-stream ad, video ad or in-page ad, or any type of display ad),
- regardless of whether advertising is booked directly with the communications platform or through a third-party agent (e.g. via an advertising network),
- regardless of whether or not advertising is placed using targeting,
- regardless of the method for calculating revenues (for example, based on views or on performance).
- Search engine advertising (sponsored content and links)
- Comparable online advertising services
The examples above are meant in the way of guidance and are therefore not exhaustive.
The payment obligation only applies above a specified minimum revenue level. In general, companies defined as falling under the obligation to pay the financial contribution are obliged to pay without exception. Nonetheless, this only applies above a specified revenue threshold that varies and is re-calculated every year. This threshold can be very roughly stated as having been around EUR 50,000 in previous years. In 2017, for example, the threshold was set at an actual revenue level of EUR 51,071. A company earning that amount of net revenue had to pay a financial contribution of EUR 262 in 2017.
The applicable legal provision states that no financial contribution is to be collected when the estimated amount an entity will be required to contribute is less than EUR 235, and that entity’s revenues are not to be taken into account when calculating the total revenue achieved in that particular industry. As of 2012, that amount is to be decreased or increased in proportion to the change in the 2005 Consumer Price Index (VPI) for the previous year or in the index replacing the VPI, as published by Statistics Austria.
As a result, the minimum amount was increased to EUR 278 in 2021.
Spot checks are done to verify the information provided by the companies on the revenues actually generated (query of actual revenue).
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