Why ORF III is left alone

Why ORF III is left alone
Peter Schöber, Kathrin Zierhut-Kunz and Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher at the program presentation
Image: ORF

“With the best will in the world, it would never occur to me why ORF III should save money. You can’t deliver more public service content than we do.” The arguments just bubble out of editor-in-chief Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher when you question the raison d’être of the station in times of austerity pressure on the station.

In fact, General Director Roland Weißmann has excluded the culture and information channel launched in 2011 from his austerity package (EUR 320 million by 2026). As reported, things look different for the second special-interest channel Sport+. Both broadcasters have an annual budget in the low double-digit million range. In terms of market shares, ORF III has long since established itself as a constant and is already scratching the 3% mark, the sports channel only manages 0.5 percent (2022 each).

Yesterday, Lorenz-Dittlbacher and the managing directors Peter Schöber (program) and Kathrin Zierhut-Kunz (finance) presented the program highlights for 2023.

One of these will be the thematic focus “Austria – the whole story”, in which Austria’s 1047-year history will be dealt with in four seasons of ten episodes each from October 26th. Andreas Pfeifer drew the format, historians were won as advisors, and Johanna Rachinger (Austrian National Library) also worked on it. The classic track will also be massively expanded in 2023. “We are now the most successful cultural broadcaster and the largest classical music producer in Europe,” says Peter Schöber from St. Valentin. While classical music broadcasts are being discontinued in Switzerland, for example, ORF III is expanding here. Formats in Upper Austria are also being used. The Bruckner Festival is also part of the program schedule, as are Classics at Lake Traun (with the Bruckner Orchestra) and the Christmas concert with folk and classical music from Gmunden – based on an idea by Franz Welser-Möst.

The information area will also be expanded. “We send three and a half hours of information every morning and would like to extend that to the afternoon as well, but that’s a question of budget,” says Lou Lorenz-Dittlbacher. “Dispute broadcasts” and discussions will be expanded, and the live broadcasts of debates from the National Council will remain, because the quotas are right.


The cultural and information broadcaster has an annual budget of around twelve million euros. 62 employees produce around 2,000 hours of programming per year, 1,000 of which are “Current” in the morning. This year 300 new productions and live broadcasts of opera, theatre, concerts and cabaret are planned.

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