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ORF headquarters feud continues

The ORF Stiftungsrat is sceptical regarding the chance of reaching an agreement about the future location of the broadcaster.

Reports have it that the panel – which resembles a supervisory board – plans to debate the issue not only during the coming weeks but also in July. ORF bosses and Stiftungsrat members initially hoped to find a solution by the end of June.

ORF general director Alexander Wrabetz is reportedly planning to set up a new main office of the state-funded TV and radio station in the Viennese district of Landstraße. However, Wrabetz has not yet commented claims that he pushes for relocating to the Media Quarter St. Marx.

The Viennese Social Democrats (SPÖ) are encouraging ORF officials to do so in what has to be seen in connection to attempts of finding investors in the newly created area. Think tanks, promotion agencies and media industry firms are invited to open offices at the Media Quarter by the city’s government coalition of SPÖ and Greens.

Robert Ziegler, who heads the ORF’s works committee, warned that the broadcaster might reduce its workforce level if the relocation got the go-ahead from the Stiftungsrat council. Ziegler claimed that "up to 100 positions" could be at risk. The ORF’s headquarters are currently situated in Vienna-Hietzing. The building must undergo an extensive renovation if the ORF’s executive board decides to abandon plans of a move to the Landstraße district.

Hannes Rauch, the general secretary of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) made clear that his faction was strictly against relocation intentions. Rauch argued that ORF chiefs should rather economise and stay in Vienna-Hietzing.

The ORF’s programme is expected to undergo a significant reform during summer. Sources close to strategists disclosed that acclaimed nature documentary series "Universum" would be screened after the 10pm Zeit im Bild news on Fridays. The award-winning programme is currently on at prime time or 9pm on Thursday.

A few new shows and series are planned for ORF 1, according to reports. The share of the channel declined by 0.8 per cent from March 2011 to the same month of this year while the market share of ORF 2 dwindled by 2.6 per cent to around 22 per cent.

Meanwhile, Peter Schöber has said that market shares must not matter when it comes to evaluating the success of ORF III. Schöber, who co-manages the station with Helmut Kaiser, said: "Our programme attracts up to 400,000 people a day but, to be honest, I do not care about market shares a lot."

"Quality should matter the most for us," he added. ORF III went on air last October. Its programme mainly consists of documentaries and Austrian films. But the station also produces "Inside Brüssel", a debate show focusing on political procedures in the European Union (EU) screened live from Brussels in Belgium.

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