State support – the Austrian way

The Austrian government (national & local) and other bodies funded by the government, hand out millions of Euro’s each year in the form of advertising contracts. This is not that special in itself, as all governments do this, and most treat media on an equal basis. But in Austria some newspapers seem to be more equal than others.

Paid market leader Kronen Zeitung started the discussion by accusing Austrian Railways of sponsoring Kronen’s paid/free competitor Österreich. In 2009 alone the paper got ads worth €900.000.

Österreich struck back and said Kronen received more than €100 million in the last years, while free daily Heute (connected to Kronen through family ties) received a further €30 million.

An APA research made it that Kronen, Österreich and Heute get much more than non-Viennese boulevard newspapers. Styria (Graz) CEO Horst Pirker, also chairman of the Austrian publishers, even talks about a system that “looks like” corruption.

Local publishers have issued a joint complaint because this ‘unequal’ treatment.

Biggest spenders are the national government, some state departments, Austrian Rail, Vienna local transport, the Vienna airport, local Vienna government, and the ‘landes’ (provincial) government.

The Austrian Rail ads in Heute and Österreich, however, are mostly part of the barter contract on distribution in trains.

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