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Minority Media in Austria: Case Study Analysis of the Status Quo of Linguistic Diversity in the Austrian Media Landscape

Yelizaveta Andakulova

Austrian Academy of sciences, the institute for Comparative Media and Communication Studies, Austria

*Corresponding Author:
Yelizaveta Andakulova
Austrian Academy of sciences, the institute for Comparative Media and Communication Studies, Austria
Received: 01-Feb-2023, Manuscript No. gmj-23-88827; Editor assigned: 03-Feb2023, PreQc No. 88827 (PQ); Reviewed: 17-Feb-2023, QC No.Q-88827; Revised: 21-Feb-2023, Manuscript No. gmj-23-88827 (R); Published: 28-Feb-2023, DOI: 10.36648/1550-7521.21.60.352

Citation: Andakulova Y (2023) Minority Media in Austria: Case Study Analysis of the Status Quo of Linguistic Diversity in the Austrian Media Landscape. Global Media Journal, 21:60.

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The Austrian Ethnic Group Act (Volksgruppengesetz) of 1976 recognises Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and Roma ethnic groups as official minorities of Austria, imbuing them with special rights and supporting them in media production. Non-officially recognised minority groups are also eligible for media production and occupy a significant part of the minority media market, albeit they are not protected. Given the relevance of minority media within modern societies and the insufficient number of the up-to-date minority media researches over approximately twenty years in Austria, this research paper represents an overview of the minority TV, radio, print and online media in Austria revealing which programmes in which languages and to what extent are available in Austria. The paper subsequently analyses current issues connected to minority media and provides a theoretical analysis of the status quo of linguistic diversity in the Austrian media landscape.



Historical Background

Data from several studies [1-4], have identified that media policy in a small and open-economy Austria had a dominant national component. At the same time, a mass media policy had a strong tradition of neocorporatism: a policy based on consensus, decisions often carried out by committees whose participants were delegated from the different interest groups [1]. The emergence of the minorities’ mass media question began with the 1976 National Minorities Act (Volksgruppengesetz), according to which the Croatians, Slovenes, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Roma (and Sinti) were officially classified as minorities under Austrian law, meaning a change in special cultural rights and the rights to use the minority language in administrative affairs (Purkarthofer et. al., 2005). As researches show, minorities have been having issues with the media since that time: the media budget was insufficient (Purkarthofer et. al., 2005) and the lack of print media produced by ‘new minorities’ in Austria was noticeable [2]. Only the recognised minorities, Croatian and Slovenians and, to a limited degree, Turks and Kurds had a small number of press publications, where a large part of Turkish and Kurdish media in Austria was produced in Germany and reached the target audience by ethnic associations. The ability to broadcast programmes in minority languages was one of the significant developments [3]. Especially conspicuous are the radio stations that were established after a law was passed in 1994 allowing broadcasting by private operators.

Legal Framework

Theoretical literature suggests that the legal framework for minority languages has been requiring modifications [3 5], and it is even mentioned that a legal framework for the provision of media in minority languages in Austria as such does not exist [3]. Ensuring minority access to mass media by legal means could only be subsumed within general minority protection legislation, which applies only to recognised minorities.

Looking at EU documentation, the European Charter implies the encouragement of the mass media to pursue the objective of understanding and tolerance in relation to minority languages (European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, 1992: art. 7, para. 3) and that the interests of the users of regional or minority languages are represented with guaranteeing the freedom and pluralism of the media (art. 11, para. 3). According to the Article 11, ‘the Parties shall undertake to ensure to users of regional or minority languages’ by opening at least one radio station and one television channel in the regional or minority languages; or by encouraging the creation of at least one radio station and one television channel; or to make an adequate provision for the minority media (art. 111, para. 1). According to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (1999), the Parties shall encourage a spirit of tolerance in the sphere of media (art. 6); shall not hinder the creation and the use of printed media and shall adopt adequate measures to facilitate access to the media (art. 9) (Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, 1999).

The Media Pluralism Monitor, part of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy, aims to detect risks to plurality in the media sector in EU member states. Seethaler & Beaufort (2022) conduct MPM – Austrian study. Research shows that in Social Inclusiveness, the indicator on Access to media for minorities is ranked as being at medium risk (58%). Research emphasises that according to the Federal Act on the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, the law guarantees the representation of the six legally recognised minority groups by requiring an ‘appropriate’ share of airtime (1984/2021, Sections 5(1) and 4(1), however, there is no elaboration on ‘appropriateness’. TV and radio news are only accessible in the six officially acknowledged minority languages. With the Indicator on ‘Access to media for local/regional communities’, the situation is much better and the risk is low, at only 17%. The private broadcasting sector, commercial television and radio stations usually do not provide any significant airtime for minorities, while the smaller and financially weaker non-commercial TV and radio broadcasters actively use multilingualism (Seethaler and Beaufort, 2022). The developments for minorities in the media sphere deserve more financial assistance because the access to airtime for non-legally recognised minorities is more a matter of editorial focus than of legal instruments such as ‘reserved airtime’ (as for legally recognised minorities) (Seethaler and Beaufort, 2022).

The use of multilingualism with a diverse number of languages by radio stations is not very common among other EU countries, and this feature positively distinguishes Austria from other EU countries to some extent. In comparison to France [6] or Denmark (Santos Rasmussen, Redhead Ahm and Bollmann 2022) which have already low risks to the minority media but still attempt to alter their media systems – Austria does not propose new significant regulations or projects yet. In the light of the absence of a big number of independent radio stations as in France [6] or the presence of state-owned and international multilingual broadcasters as in Germany [7, 8], Austria still shows positive results: for instance, it has no issues with intolerance and ignoring problems of people in regions such as in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria (Spassov, Ognyanova and Daskalova, 2022). The recognition of community media by law in Austria – which is absent in Latvia [9], Montenegro [8], and Turkey [9] reduces the risks to financial support and development of the community media.

Looking at national records, the Austrian institution for the selfregulation of the media, Presserat (Austrian Press Council) has published a ‘code of honour for good journalism’ that has been signed by a big number of daily newspapers and magazines [10]. This code explicitly prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, and gender, however, does not emphasise special issues of minority languages.

The 2022 Integration Survey gathered statistics on the frequency of the use of different types of media as well as the language in which the media were used for the first time. Social Media in the Internet plays a significant role for the foreign-born population, which is not the case for those who born in Austria. 49% of Austrians and 63% of people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey use social media on a daily basis. People born in Afghanistan, Syria or the Russian Federation use it even more, consisting of 76%. On the other hand, Austrians (77%) consume more TV programs as well as migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Turkey (66%), whereas people from Afghanistan, Syria and the Russian Federation consume it less (45%). The population born in Austria read newspapers much more frequently on a daily basis than migrants (Statistik Austria, 2022). In 2021, people born in Bosnia and Serbia consumed around a third (34% and 36% respectively) television media in the language their countries of origin; Turkish migrants consumed 58% of television media in their language. 37% of Syrian migrants saw TV programmes predominantly in their native language, whereas those born in Afghanistan, or the Russian Federation watched significantly less, around 15% by both groups. Similar patterns emerged on social media. 53% of those born in Turkey and 52% of those born in Syria used it in their native language. People born in Afghanistan or the Russian Federation used German-speaking social media channels in a greater degree (70% and 61% respectively), similarly to migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina (62%) and Serbia (55%). Newspapers were mostly read in German, with people from Turkey consisting 58% and more as three quarters in all other groups [10].

Austrian Media (Print/ Radio / Television / Online) and Their Use of Languages

German-Speaking Media Market

The Austrian German-speaking media market is characterised by two dominating structures: the national public service broadcaster Österreichischer Run funk (ORF) – the uncontested market leader in the electronic media (television, radio, online) – and the largest newspaper ‘Kronenzeitung’. Austria’s private commercial television is in a relatively weak position. The first private channel launched as late as 2003 (ATV). As a consequence of a lost lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights, Austria released legislation to enable private commercial broadcasting only in 2001 [11]. ORF is obliged by law to offer programmes in the languages of minorities and for minorities. A weekly nationwide TV show Heimat, fremde Heimat in German language is devoted to minority topics such as integration, cultural diversity, and so forth. An interesting phenomenon in the German-speaking media market is the existence of an innovative transcultural journal: a content analysis of magazine Biber demonstrates that transcultural magazines promote counter-public spheres and offer insights into ethnic communities. Similar ethnic media entailed two major benefits: providing space at different ethnic associations and linking them to the major society [12]. Compared to migrants, semi-autonomous minorities are well-integrated into the Austrian community (Herczeg, 2009); however, the main German-speaking media market tends to exclude certain social groups, especially minorities, and this situation is well illustrated by the example of the Carinthian Slovenes, the Burgenland Croats and the migrant women in Austria: all the groups play a very marginal role in the Austrian media [13].

Media in Community Languages (Languages Spoken by Members of Minority Groups)

The existence of media in a community’s language demonstrates that the community is fully modernised, able to take a part in social life [14] recognise points of contact and communication among different groups, and reflect the opportunities and challenges of living with cultural diversity (Georgiou, 2013). This allows a language to survive: it inspires language use when the media is participative, closely interconnected to the communities (territorial or diasporic) of the language speakers, and when they can give people a reason for adopting, or asserting, the identity of being a community language speaker (Cormack and Hourigan, 2007). Austrian media establishments have difficulty applying ethnic marketing strategies, for which there are different underlying conditions: the financial issues, the risk of creating and enforcing stereotypes, and the fact that minorities and migrants are not an explicit target group of media companies [15].

Good development of media community languages is demonstrated by there being Austrian newspapers written in Turkish language and devoted to the Turkish diaspora in Austria. Ethnic media, which have been established by the Turkish immigrants, contribute to successful social integration. The process started with magazine publishing, and then turned into newspaper publishing by 1999 [16]. Newspapers for a Turkish diaspora in Vienna such as Öneri (founded 1999), Yeni Vatan Gazetesi, Neue Heimat Zeitung (founded 1999), Yeni Hareket (founded 2003), Zaman Österreich (founded 2008) and Gazete Bum (founded 2009) — are mostly written in Turkish but have German supplements or are partly written in German. Another example is the magazine Kurdi (founded 2009), which is written in Kurdish and German [17]. Vienna Dnes (founded 2008) and Bulgaren in Österreich (founded 2006) target the Bulgarish community. Both magazines are written in Bulgarian and German. The monthly journal Polonika (founded 1993) was created for the Polish community; its main languages are Polish and German [17]. An informative study was performed in regard to the Carinthian Slovenes: content analysis of 24 issues of newspapers and two interviews with the editors demonstrated how the main newspapers of the Slovene minority consolidate their members, strengthen Christian values and reaffirm the image of Slovenians. Newspapers encourage young people in Austrian Carinthia to take part in various cultural events. Christianity plays an important role in the society of Carinthian Slovenes; thus, famous and trusted newspapers such as ‘Novine’ (News) and ‘Nedelja’ (Sunday) address religious topics. Christian values are reinforced by ‘Nedelja’ to a greater extent: it shows the importance and the good sides of the Christian life, provides answers to life’s questions, and even talks about world issues [18]. An equally useful study devoted to the Latin ethnic media in Austria emphasised three magazines: Latein amerika anders (reports on Latin America’s news), Cultura Latina (focuses on integration issues and Austria–Latin America relations) and ReveLA (reports on social topics). It was concluded that the Latin American media in Austria fulfil their function according to their target setting [19]. The presence of African ethnic groups in Austria has resulted in the development of a shared online presence. Radio ‘1476’ and ‘Radio Africa’ have connections with ethnic broadcasters, which helps to create African television programmes in Vienna [20].

The Austrian media market in community languages is diverse, however, it rarely goes beyond the community and more research on diasporic media in Austria would be desirable. It is quite possible that the challenges could lie in the fact that it is quite difficult to analyse a newspaper (or other source) completely in a community language without any German or English supplement.

Multilingual Media

Multilingual media in Austria are presented in print, radio, television and online (almost all media have an online presence) formats. A set of studies has indicated that multilingualism has been extensively developed in the area of radio especially in community radio stations however, up to 2008 even the Austrian media market was community-oriented – media offerings were only for German speakers. Consequently, minorities did not have access because of the language barrier. Since 2009, more bilingual and multilingual media have started to emerge [21], whereas ethnic minorities without official minority status have been discouraged from establishing formal media (including multilingual) enterprises the whole time [22].

The multilingual media market for migrants and minorities also includes independent radio stations in Austria, ‘Radiofabrik’ and ‘Radio FRO’ (Free Radio Oberösterreich-Upper Austria), which have been broadcasting programmes for migrants since 1998. ‘Radio Dva’, established by ORF and two private radio organizations in 2001, has programmes in German and Slovenian languages. An ORF medium-wave station ‘Radio 1476’ offered multilingual ‘Radio Africa’, which was created for the African community in Austria and has become a community building factor. Radio ‘Orange’ also provides programmes for migrants and ethnic minorities in German, Turkish, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Portuguese, Spanish and French languages [23]. Thus, a qualitative research project, which was initiated by the Austrian Federation of Free Radios (VFRÖ) and financed by the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR), suggested that free media is helpful to promote opinions of marginalized groups and minorities. Free Radio stations in Austria aim to involve as many different people as possible. The choice of languages frequently depends on the person involved whereby multilingual programming is especially welcome. ‘Free Radio’ can further be seen as a major platform for broadcasts in migrant and minority languages. Several broadcasts react to the different voices in the communities and reflect diverse needs, interests, age groups, tastes, positions, etc. The research, which compared ethnic media legal system and its development in the EU countries in terms of revenue as 2011, concluded that in Austria, ethnic media are founded by recognised minorities and enjoy First Amendment-type rights. Diasporas without official minority status cannot establish formal media enterprises (such restrictions are absent in Britain and Belgium) [24].

Foreign Media Available in Austria

Language can defend small countries from external influence or degrade them to being part of a larger foreign media landscape. In small states with big neighbours, foreign channels achieve high market shares while the share of domestic channels from other language regions is minimal. The fact that Austria is a small state influences its media landscape because cross-border radio and television programmes from Germany are widely disseminated [25]. In Austria, co-operation with foreign partners in the sphere of printed media does not constitute a significant profit anymore; however, the digital sector is in demand. From the perspective of Austrian companies, foreign partners provide cardinal expertise for digital development. The media subsidy scheme and antitrust legislation have been able to maintain the status quo. This means that publishing companies can maintain their dominance in the regional market and progressively establish strategic alliances with domestic and international partners [26].

Overseas Chinese identity construction in Austria was analysed by focusing on ‘Europe Weekly’, the biggest and most influential Chinese language newspaper in Vienna. Research demonstrated that the ‘Europe Weekly’ provides a narrative of a hybrid Chinese identity that encompasses Austria, China, and the local Chinese community in Austria. The newspaper can be seen as a transnational organisation: the local autonomy of the editorial office in Vienna allows adaptation to the interests of the Austrian Chinese society, while the newspaper’s engagement in the Liánhé Zhōubào project enables it to profit from otherwise unavailable resources [27]. Apart from that, foreign news channels (ntv, n24, CNN) are available in Austria via cable or satellite [28].


In Europe, minority protection was not really appreciated over the years, but the situation was re-vitalised at the end of the last century. The cause for this improvement must be seen in the concern for stability and peace. Minority protection has become a European phenomenon based on the equalisation of linguistic communities and their so-called positive discrimination, both within the framework of collective rights (Pan, 2008). One of the successful ways to promote ethnic languages is an introducing of dual-medium education programmes (equal time is devoted to two languages). In Austrian media landscape, these face challenges because of the recent paradigm of linguistic diversity against the background of migration, mobility and European law. However, there exist bilingual schools aspiring to achieve the equal use of languages. Subsequently, these implementations may influence Austrian education policy, although for now it has a marginal impact [29]. Multilingualism is promoted as a resource in official language education policies across the EU: in addition to the national language, people are encouraged to learn another language. ‘Foreign languages’ in Austria are taught as a core curricular element from the first year of primary school until the end of compulsory schooling. While other languages are presented in a minority of cases, nearly all of the students (99.9%) who study languages at lower secondary level learn English as what is termed the ‘first foreign language’ [30].The use of minority languages in school is also a good indicator of the extent to which minorities in Austria are protected equally. Unfortunately, Austria still faces challenges: in contrast to Hungarian and Croatian language school in Burgenland, there is only a rudimentary learning of the Roma language; in contrast to Burgenland and Carinthia, there are no bilingual schools for the minorities in Vienna and Styria; there are territorial limitations for granting minority rights (urbanisation, rural depopulation); the only surviving bilingual minority school for Czech and Slovak minorities in Vienna is insufficiently funded (Report by the Austrian Center for Ethnic Groups, 2021).



Language is a symbolic means of communicating through gestures, sounds, or written words (Open Education Sociology Dictionary, 2022). Multilingualism is the ability of societies, institutions, groups and individuals to engage, on a regular basis, with more than one language in their day-to-day lives (European Commission, 2007). Minority is audience classed as members of recognised or non-recognised minorities. Minority media is media used by a minority.

Theoretical Background

The relevance of the chosen topic is caused by two societal trends: globalisation and democracy (especially the human rights’ sphere). The theoretical approach to minority media and multilingualism in Austria was meticulously described by Busch in the book ‘Sprachen in Disput [31] For a long time, monolingualism was seen as the norm, bilingualism or multilingualism – whether it was about individual speakers, regions or countries – as a special case. In terms of worldwide economic interdependencies and political-spatial reconfigurations, as well as widespread mobility, migration, and participation in transnational communication networks, i.e. in phenomena that are summarised under the keyword ‘globalisation’, multilingualism is increasingly perceived as part of everyday reality (Busch, 2004). This is also the case for Austria, where migrants constitute 25,4% of the whole population [32]. ‘It is impossible to count the languages’, Jacques Derrida (1997, quotes in Busch, 2013: 8) points out, ‘there is no computability of languages, because the unity of language, which eludes all arithmetic count ability, is never determined’. Dealing with concrete linguistic practices and language in interaction, one cannot avoid linguistic diversity including a whole range of linguistic and communicative resources – different varieties, registers, jargons, genres, accents, styles, oral and written – which could be assigned partly to one language system, partly to another, partly to several or none (Busch, 2013: 9). In order to make data countable and capable of measurement, this research paper operates a more traditional definition of language, where language is a symbolic means of communicating through gestures, sounds, or written words (Open Education Sociology Dictionary, 2022). By analysing scientific literature, it can be seen that dealing with the processes of globalisation and European integration has triggered a new dynamic both in the political and scientific discussion about language policy. The central role of the nationstate is becoming questioned, internationally and intercultural, as well as transnationally and transcultural perspectives come to the fore. This paradigm shift can be seen in both linguistic and media studies approaches (Busch, 2004: 13). Globalisation can be seen as a phenomenon undermining national identity and at the same time it could produce the opposite effect of reinforcing national feelings [33]. Around the turn of the millennium, a series of researches appeared that dealt with the future of languages under the sign of globalisation. On the one hand, there is a rather culturally pessimistic view that threatens the very existence of smaller languages and warns against linguistic standardisation under the dominance of English; on the other hand, the current transformation processes are also seen as an opportunity to promote diversity. State policy towards minorities is also usually the main focus in rare comparative works. A distinction is made between integrating and assimilating practices, between centralised ones and federalist structures. In fact, it seems difficult to make a clear assignment; instead, state policies move between them depending on the political and economic situation of these poles and at times tend towards one or the other [34].

In the previous works on this topic, the question of access for minorities to information and communication or the realisation of cultural and linguistic rights is in the foreground; it is an access that can be summarised under the heading of human rights or minority rights approach. In fact, the impetus for research often comes from international institutions, notably UNESCO and the Council of Europe [34]. It is about comparative investigations into which rights the (national) public are granted regarding individual minorities. Apart from that, it can be bundled under the heading of language-political approach: there are sociolinguistic questions regarding the preservation of ethnic groups. However, this is not the case in Austria: there are no vanishing ethnic groups with dying cultures or languages, and most migrants belong to stable communities. The topic from this point of view is often reflected by social movement campaigns for minority rights or language rights. At the institutional level, the EU Office for Lesser-Used Languages EBLUL (which was discontinued in 2010 and replaced by the European Language Equality Network (ELEN) in 2011) should also be mentioned in this area. This department runs research projects with the languages of autochthonous minorities or regional languages within the European Union. From the 1980s, Western European interest in international communications research shifted from North-South relations away to intra-European issues like the European unification process and Europe's position in the international media industry. Impulses also come from the European Union and the Council of Europe. The role of languages in the functioning of the nation-state is being revised. Languages became a fundamental aspect of the nation’s project as the central medium of communication, meaning that language and nation or national identity – was closely linked. Junk (1998 in Busch, 2004: 73) speaks of linguistic nationalism and writes in relation to the traditional view of the nation-state: before the nation prevailed state, the ruling estates communicated in various lingua franca, and the subjects spoke their respective regional vernaculars. In the nation project, language became a central factor in unification, and a national culture was assigned to the regional folk cultures. For the bourgeois nation-state, the regulation of the language question had practical reasons in relation to the newly established administrative apparatus and the military. The order that creates unity is expressed in the strategy of internal homogenization with simultaneous external demarcation. From a linguistic perspective, Ehlich (2000, quoted in Busch, 2004) states that the future of languages in post-nationality is a pressing issue, but that the persistence of framework conditions that have been consolidated in terms of national language taken for granted have to be broken open for it. The same questioning of the previous paradigms shaped by the nation-state also takes place in communication science.

In functioning democracies, media and politics are in a tense relationship. Despite their divergent missions, they have a symbiotic correlation. Political forces turn to the public to motivate their actions, campaign for their ideas and win people’s trust. The media, on the other hand, have to inform people about politics and exercise control over politicians when the latter perform their duties. They need each other and, at the same time, they benefit from each other. Without access to current affairs, the media would be deprived of topics for coverage, and without the media, politicians would hardly find a way to the population. What they need most is trust. Good policies alone are not enough. Equally important is the skilful public presentation of goals, decisions, and achievements. Only those who are familiar with the rules of media democracy and know how to apply them will survive as politicians and gain a majority. In the absence of this communication, the image of political institutions will be distorted, and prejudices will be reinforced. This becomes critical when politicians try to build a media facade, instrumentalist the media, and even manipulate it. At this stage, the media is being invoked as a watchdog and a corrective tool. Free and independent media are needed to accomplish this task. The status and pluralism of the media are essential to the quality of a democratic public, as citizens’ awareness and public opinion are largely influenced by the media. Thus, the interrelation between politics and the media is at the heart of democracy. This relationship needs permanent rebalancing. It is therefore even more important to ensure freedom of the press and transparency of media structures, to guarantee fair working conditions for journalists, to counter partisanship and corruption in the media, and to ensure pluralism of views and free formation of beliefs. Minority media create media diversity aiming to represent the views of ethnic minority groups. Despite their interdependence, the demarcation line between them should be preserved [35]. Minority organisations can act as bridges between cultures and promote community inclusion allowing them to mingle with the majority around them. Active participation in public discourse, combined with representation in civic organisations, forms the core of a democratic state since everyone is responsible for shaping the aspects that determine their lives. The integration of minorities into the interconnected system of rights and responsibilities is a precondition for maintaining functional, cohesive democracies [36]. Minority mass media, as well as ethnic mass media, is one of the ways for minorities to participate in the common social life of Austria. One of the preconditions of a stable, cohesive democracy is the successful integration of minority groups [36]. This includes the support of minorities’ rights: establishing minority organisations is one way to assist minorities in their integration into society.

The European Education Area puts a great emphasis on language competences. The ability to be conversant in languages leads to easy mobility and cooperation; it is at the heart of building the European Education Area. They are indispensable for mobility, cooperation and mutual intelligibility across borders. According to the European Commission, the existence of multilingualism in Europe is a powerful symbol of the EU’s objective to be united in diversity, one of the milestones of the EU idea. Languages designate personal identities and are also part of a shared inheritance. The EU designates four main arguments in promoting multilingualism: the ability to speak languages has an importance in regard to education policies; it creates personal and professional opportunities for societies; it fosters cultural awareness, mutual intelligibility and social cohesion for companies; workers with language and intercultural competences assist businesses in success and growth in global markets. Linguistic diversity is enshrined in Article 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The respect for the rights of persons belonging to a minority is a fundamental element of the Charter. It forbids discrimination against people belonging to a minority group and requests respect for cultural, religious and linguistic diversity in the EU. The Commission ensures that fundamental rights and the right to non-discrimination are respected when EU law is implemented.

From a Western perspective, modernisation theory assumes that mass media unite important development steps, representing a transition to a modern society. In this context, the question of the role of indigenous languages in the media, especially on the radio, was also raised. Linguistic diversity in the media was admittedly used to achieve views by broad layers with educational intent, however, it was also a factor causing the costs to skyrocket and should therefore be limited – occasionally with the reference that linguistic diversity hinders the national unification process as well. The dependency theory, on the other hand, assumes that the internationalisation of mass communication leads to a dominance of the West (above all the USA), a media imperialism towards the Third World A rather marginal place in international communication research, studies language foreign policy or foreign cultural policy of individual states e.g. B. Alliance Française, British Council [36]. As well as the importance of foreign services of state and public radio and television stations.

The analysis of multilingualism in media and minority media does not concentrate strictly in a certain scientific area. These themes are usually studied in communication, linguistics, cultural and political sciences, and their popularity is increasing with rising interdependencies between states under the sign of such societal trends as globalisation and democracy (especially the protection of human rights). The relationship between globalisation and national identity has also been disputed actively in modern humanitarian studies.

Data Collection

In order to answer the research question of the study ‘which minority TV, radio, print and online media and which programmes in which languages and to what extent are available in Austria’ the Internet research was used: almost all of the media has a representative website. E-mail and online discussion forums were used to achieve a direct access to individuals with relevant knowledge. As of 2022, 18 radio stations and 9 television providers use languages other than German. 23 printed media and 16 online resources exist in minority languages.

‘Statistics Austria’ was chosen as a starting point for the data collection as it provides information about the population in Austria that were born in another country (Statistics Austria, 2022). Among the EU member countries, those that were the birth-home of most of the non-native people living in Austria were Germany, Romania, Hungary, Poland and Italy. Among the non- EU countries, the leading places in the statistics belong to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Serbia, Syria, Afghanistan, the Russian Federation, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Iran, China, the U.S. and India. Statistics of population with a migration background showed than a quarter of the total Austrian population has a migration background [37], In 2021, Turkey was the leader in obtaining citizenship; other places were taken by people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Afghanistan, Syria, Kosovo, Russian Federation, Iran, Romania, North Macedonia, Ukraine, Germany, Hungary, India, Croatia, Egypt, Slovakia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Iraq [37].

Thirty-seven languages are available in the Austrian radio market, which can be considered a fairly large number. Croatian is the most frequently used language, with English taking second place and Spanish third. Bambara, Swahili, Chechen, Lingala, Kinyarwanda, Hausa and Persian are the least commonly used languages. African languages primarily are combined in a one programme ‘Radio Africa’, which was introduced by the ‘Radio 1476’ and is transmitted by ‘Radio Orange’. Public and private broadcasters occupy a small part of the multilingual radio market: public radio providers broadcast programmes in Croatian, Hungarian and Slovak, whereas private radio stations broadcast in Arabic, Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian and Russian. Of all the broadcasters, ‘Orange 94’, ‘Radio FRO’, ‘Radio Fabrik’ and ‘Radio Free queens’ most actively cultivate language diversity. They are all non-commercial [38].

Among all Austrian television providers, it is not very common to use languages other than German. The majority of programmes in other languages are presented mostly by private television channels such as OKTO TV and Dorf TV. At the present time, there are no regular programmes in Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romani, etc. ORF2 and ORF3 provide regular programmes exclusively for Slovak, Slovenian, Hungarian and Croatian minorities, which are officially recognised.

English and Slovenian are forging ahead slightly, compared with the other languages in printed newspapers and magazines. The Croatian, Polish, Romani and Russian languages are distributed equally. Medienhandbuch has information about only two Turkish media sources: newspapers titled ‘Neue Heimat Zeitung’ and ‘Brücke Magazin’. It is issued in Turkish and German language. Information about such newspapers as ‘Sonnokta’, ‘Avusturya Günlüğü’, ‘Havadis, ‘Haber Journal’, for example, is absent. Overall, it can be seen that Turkish online materials account for a significantly large segment of the minority media landscape. There are only marginally more online resources in Croatian than in the other languages represented.

Findings and Discussion

Austria’s geography plays a significant role in its population: Austria is a landlocked country, which is bordered by Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Migrants come not only from the border countries, but also from other parts of the world. More than one quarter of population has a migration background, accounting for 25, 4% [39]. Despite such a significant number, there were no relevant studies targeted at minority media over the past 20 years. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed a social issue: migrants needed information about the coronavirus in their languages as soon as possible. Exit restrictions, hygiene measures, social distancing and all other measures prescribed by the government against the coronavirus are effective if they are supported by everyone. This only works if they are understood by the entire population. Even people with German mother tongue found it difficult to grasp all the information about the coronavirus, but for people who do not have sufficient knowledge of German it is even more difficult. According to Judith Kohlenberger, a cultural researcher at the WU, this is a sign that Austria has not yet arrived in the self-image of an immigration society. Migrant communities would primarily consume media from their countries of origin if they are not culturally well integrated. This has less linguistic reasons, but is an indication of which country one feels more connected. Especially for older generations – as a risk group of the coronavirus – it is very problematic. If language skills are not sufficient, people who have enough social contacts – both to their own community and to the majority society – will reach important information. This shows how important a well-mixed society is.

A little later, but still during the COVID-19 pandemic, the regional channel ‘Radio Wien’ announced some information on protective measures not only in the languages of the recognised minorities, but also in languages of the non-recognised ethnic groups: in Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbocroatian, Arabic, Spanish, and English. This demonstrated that the needs of minorities were considered (PMP Austria, 2022).

Minority Radio Stations

The criteria applied to obtain information about radio stations: owner, sender, website, languages, and distribution type and distribution area. More radio stations transmit programmes in foreign languages than do TV channels. Most of them are independent non-profit radio stations, and there is a significant diversity of languages among some of them. For instance, free radio station ‘Orange 94.0’ presents its radio programme in 26 languages: Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Czech, Dari, English, Farsi, French, Greek, Hindi, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian, Polish, Swahili, Bambara, Kinyarwanda-Kirundi,

Haussa, Lingala, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Hungarian, which makes ‘Orange 94.0’ the leader by the number of languages used among all Austrian radio stations. The station presents a platform for the local scene and local music creation, oral history and social discussions. It also actively creates intercultural projects emphasising women’s cultural activities, feminist activism, environmentalism and the realities of life for migrants. Another example of a successful multilingual radio is Salzburg’s ‘Radiofabrik’, which broadcasts programmes in Arabic, Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Czech, Farsi, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Hindi, Pashto and Urdu. The majority of these languages are not transmitted from all the time but have a strict regular schedule. Another conspicuous example of using multilingualism is a private radio station, ‘Radio FRO’, which has its head office in Linz. While ‘Radiofabrik’ broadcasts in 16 languages, ‘Radio FRO’ transmits in 14 languages. Discussion topics on both stations range from everyday issues to politics in and outside of Austria. Apart from these three clear examples, the free radio station ‘Radio Helsinki’ from Graz needs to be considered. It also provides 14 languages with a strict timetable. The sponsors of the radio are ‘Die Rundfunk und Telekom Regulierungs-GmbH’, ‘Das Land Steiermark’, and ‘Stadt Graz’. Free radio station ‘Freequenns’, which is based in Liezen in Styria, provides an opportunity for people of all ages to create their own programmes, choose their languages, and learn media skills and digital editing technology. It is non-commercial and free of advertising.

The linguistic diversity of radio stations far exceeds the spread of foreign languages among television providers, but the availability of multilingual programmes among radio stations is a good indicator on the way to multilingual development, which is not common among other EU states.

Minority Television Providers

Internet research was used to find information about minority television. The following criteria were developed for the minority television analysis: owner, broadcaster, website, languages used, distribution type, distribution area, general/specialist programme and channel description. Since autumn 2005, OKTO TV, a non-commercial broadcaster, has been offering anyone who is interested the opportunity to independently broadcast their topics and programmes on television. The necessary infrastructure (cameras, editing suites, TV studio) and the programme slots are available to OKTO producers free of charge. OKTO TV is financed primarily from subsidies from the City of Vienna (MA 5) and from funds from the ‘Fonds for the Promotion of Non-commercial Broadcasting of the Rundfunk- und Telekom Regulation GmbH (RTR-GmbH)’. According to Dorf TV, monoculture together with profit thinking and disinformation threaten democratic cohesion, which is why this broadcaster aims to resist and fight for independence and public access, participation, diversity and community. In comparison to multilingual radio stations, the offer of minority television providers is considerably less, and the programs do not have a strict timetable. The languages are also subject to change. ORF2, an Austrian public television channel owned by ORF, provides programmes for minorities in minority languages, but the programmes can be seen only locally. ORF3 also broadcasts programmes in Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian and Hungarian, however, only in certain regions and to limited extent.

Thus, OKTO TV and Dorf TV are the only multilingual channels, whereas ORF3 meet the government requirements and provide programmes in languages other than German to limited extent.


Minority Newspapers in Printed and Online Format (Medienhandbuch)

Minority newspapers in printed and online format were analysed using Medienhandbuch, a database with information about Austrian media and journalists. In Austria, newspapers and journals in Slovenian, Slovak, Czech/Slovak, Croatian, Russian, Polish, English, Romani, Bulgarian languages are distributed in print and online format. At the present time, the popular Slovenian newspapers include ‘Novice’ and ‘Nedelja’. ‘Pohl’ady’ is a famous newspaper among the Slovak minority, and ‘Videnské Svobodné Listy’ is aimed at an audience that speaks Slovak and Czech. ‘Glasnik’ and ‘Hrvatske Novine’ are designed for Croatian-speaking people. The newspaper ‘Österreich - Polen, Austria - Polska’ does not have a full-fledged online format such as a website, but it is still possible to find a pdf version of the printed newspaper. Information about such newspapers as ‘Sonnokta’ (online newspaper) and ‘Havardis Haber’ (online newspaper) is absent. According to the information presented in Medienhandbuch, the offer of minority media is not significant.

Minority Online Sources

The data of online providers give an insight into the registered online media structures in Austria, focusing on media owner, registered office, title of the media, languages used, distribution area, content update interval and connection to a newspaper/ magazine/radio station/TV station. The number of registered online sources found is relatively small; they are not as popular as printed newspapers with online representation. The largest part of the minority online mass media is produced only in the minority language. One eye-catching example is a Turkish regularly updated portal, ‘Europa Journal - Haber Avrupa’. Its peculiarity lies in the fact that articles in Turkish are mixed with articles in German. Furthermore, apart from the standard sections – ‘politics’, ‘economics’, ‘health’, etc. it also has an ‘integration’ section, where news about migrations and tips for integration are discussed.

The absence of online sources is explained by preferences of migrant communities: it is easier for them to create a group in a social network, where a lot of people can easily join a discussion. Instantaneous communication, the possibility to ask almost every question, the absence of financial contributions and popularity of social networks facilitate the online communication among minorities.

Minority Organisations

The data on minority organisations includes information about the title of the organisation, media owner, registered office, official website and languages used. According to the findings, officially recognised minority organisations develop well. Among four popular Slovak communities in Austria (‘Österreichisch- Slowakische Gesellschaft’, ‘Slowakisches Institute’, ‘Österreich- Slowakischer Kulturverein’ and ‘Slowakischer Schulverein’), two serve as cultural organisations. Seven popular Czech organisations are located in Vienna, serving for the most part as cultural merges exchanging information from the fields of culture, science, sport and social life. Seven Slovenian organisations follow the same path, representing opportunities for socialising and immersion in cultural heritage. Seven Hungarian communities provide an opportunity to dive into Hungarian cultural life. Among these ‘mergings’ are Hungarian religious, sport and school organisations in Austria. Four minority communities devoted to Roma in Austria engage in similar activities; however, unlike the other organisations, they have the purpose of fighting against Romaphobia. For example, the association ‘Hango Roma’ in Vienna focuses not only on merging Roma in Austria but also on outreach activities. Six Croatian organisations, among which one is located in Burgenland, promote intercultural relations within the major population and the Croatian ethnic minority in Austria. The Albanian, Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Kurdish, Malagasy, Mongolian, Portuguese, Icelandic and Japanese minorities have just one prominent representative organisation. Not all ethnicities in Austria have their own representation in the form of an organisation or mass media material; however, many of those who possess it use not only minority language in communication but also German.

Minority media outlets in print formats are usually disseminated by minority organisations and not by usual newsstands. There are approximately 98 minority organisations in Austria, and, of course, not all of them have their own media outlet. Figure 1 and Figure 2 demonstrate the findings: Figure 1 represents number of all media offerings, whereas Figure 2 demonstrates the number of media offerings without official minority languages. It can be seen that non-official minorities have more media outlets that the official minorities. In both pie charts, Slavic languages are most prevalent, followed by Romance and Germanic languages (Figure 1, Figure 2).


Figure 1: Number of Media Offerings.


Figure 2: Number of Media Offerings without the Recognised Minority Languages.


The coronavirus crisis showed that migrants did not have a satisfied access to information about the measures when the crisis began, but government measures are only effective when all population follows them. Authorities did not know where they should publish information on the coronavirus for migrants – the migrant mass media market is relatively hidden. Not only authorities, but also migrants do not know exactly which media offer is represented. This, as well as the absence of up-to-date researches leaded to the need to research minority media.

After a profound search on data, it was found out that not only official minority groups actively establish agencies; nonrecognised minority groups do, too, and they set up more facilities than the recognised ones. The majority of Austrian television providers use only German; however, private television channels such as OKTO TV and Dorf TV broadcast programmes in other languages (Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, etc.). ORF2 and ORF3 provide regular programmes exclusively for Slovak, Slovenian, Croatian and Hungarian minorities due to government obligations. In respect to the radio stations, the language variety is more diverse. Croatian, English and Spanish are the most frequently used languages. One aspect here is similar to Austrian television: private non-commercial radio stations use multilingualism in their programmes, which is not the case for public service broadcasting, which uses mostly the German language. There are exceptions, however, as ‘Radio Burgenland’ transmits some programmes in Croatian, Romani, Slovak, Czech and Hungarian. In general, Croatian, English and Spanish are the most widespread languages in programmes on private radio stations. Minority printed media comprises around 20 newspapers and magazines in Austria, with English and Slovenian the most commonly used languages. As for online minority media, the number of registered online sources found is relatively small; they are not as popular as printed newspapers with online representation. Online newspapers in Turkish far exceed online magazines and newspapers in other languages. The data collected about minority organisations demonstrate that their number is much larger than the number of existing printed media or online sources. Hungarian, Czech and Slovenian organisations are the most widespread in Austria. Newspapers that exist in print and online format tend to be written in minority languages; however, the minority cultural establishments usually use German on their website (possibly within the organisation, too). The majority of minority establishments are devoted to the preservation of language and culture, and allow people from the same background to communicate with each other. They usually disseminate minority media outlets.

Minority media in Austria face almost similar issues as it was 20 years ago: insufficient funding and the lack of dissemination. Apart from that, non-recognised minorities do not have enough support from the government. In comparison to other EU countries, Austria has a stable situation and on the way to development – especially the presence of linguistically diverse community and private radio stations is remarkable – but there is still a room for improvement.


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