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REVEALED: How much will people in Austria have to pay for TV and radio contribution fees?

Austria has announced more details on the planned changes to its GIS, the public TV and radio fee that funds broadcaster ORF. Here's what you can expect.

REVEALED: How much will people in Austria have to pay for TV and radio contribution fees?
A TV remote and a television (Photo by Jonas Leupe on Unsplash)

A general household levy, paid by every home in Austria, will substitute the current GIS fee from 2024, as the government previously announced.

Now, the federal coalition has agreed on the main features of the new “ORF law”, with a levy that should cost around €15 a month (plus state taxes), Media Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP) announced.

Federal taxes and VAT will be eliminated from the fee, she added during a press conference on Thursday. Only primary residences will have to pay – secondary homes will be exempt. 

GIS is Austria’s TV and radio licence that can set households who have TV or radio equipment at home back between €22.45 and €28.25 per month, depending on the state, a month. Most of that money goes to the public broadcaster ORF and pays for in-house productions, broadcasting equipment, technical equipment, licences and more.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in 2023

Even people who don’t watch ORF programmes need to pay for GIS as long as they have a device capable of receiving the broadcast. However, those who don’t pay for it because they don’t have such devices can still stream the content online, which Austria’s Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional, as The Local reported. 

The 2022 court decision stated that Austria’s legislative power had to “close the streaming gap” by the end of 2023. Several options were considered, but in the end, the ruling coalition decided on a household levy in line with the system in neighbouring Germany.  In Germany, the current fee is €18.36 per month.

From next year every single home in Austria will pay a fee – which should be lower than the current GIS fee – and therefore, everyone has the right to access the public broadcaster’s content, whether they are using a television, radio or internet-connected device.

With the changes, the “GIS checks” at people’s front door with questions about reception devices will be abolished. “That’s no longer a modern system,” said Raab, “I don’t want that in Austria.”

A €15 household levy

The fee will become about a third cheaper than before, totalling €15 per month, plus state levies – Upper Austria and Vorarlberg have already said they would waive those taxes.

Currently, a household that pays for the radio and TV fee in Vienna or Lower Austria, for example, pays €28.25 per month, with federal and state taxes representing €7.80 of that amount. 

Styria has the highest federal and state taxes, at €8.20, while Upper Austria and Vorarlberg currently add €2 in taxes. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s church tax and how do I avoid paying it?

The ORF amendment also provides fewer restrictions on public broadcasting in streaming and social media. For example, ORF will be allowed to produce content for streaming only, and the limitation on seven-day viewing will be dropped.

The model for future streaming and social media activities will likely be based on the German content offering from ARD and ZDF, which primarily plays out its content for young people on social media. 

At around €680 million per year, GIS fees already account for about two-thirds of ORF’s revenue.  With the household levy, several hundred thousand additional households are expected to pay, which until now have saved on GIS because of pure streaming use. 

ORF General Roland Weißmann spoke in recent days of 300,000 more households. Currently, there are about 700,000 households that are either irregularly not paying or do not pay GIS because of streaming-only use.

Those previously exempt from the fee will continue to be exempt. 

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Austria breaks population growth record in 2022

The country grew by a net 126,000 people last year – the most in its post-war history. The increase is down solely to immigration into the country, according to the country’s statistics agency.

Austria breaks population growth record in 2022

If it wasn’t for immigration into Austria, including refugee arrivals, the Austrian population would’ve shrunk last year.

That’s according to Statistics Austria, the country’s official agency.

126,000 net newcomers is a huge increase on 2021 numbers, where 46,000 net new people took up residence in Austria.

More than half that total was made up of the 67,000 refugees who fled to Austria from Ukraine as Russia began its full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022.

READ ALSO: Ukrainian refugees push Austria’s population past nine million

Ukrainians constituted the largest group by far. The second-largest group, at 14,000 people, were Syrians. About 9,000 Germans also took up residence in Austria last year, who made up the largest share of the net 36,000 people who came from other EEA countries, Switzerland, or the UK in 2022. A further 2,700 came from Turkey.

The immigration into Austria more than made up for the country’s demographic slide – at least this time. Around 82,600 people were born in Austria last year, about 10,000 less than the number of people who died, leaving immigration solely responsible for the country’s population increase in 2022.

Out of the country’s 9 million people, about 1.7 million do not have Austrian citizenship.

READ ALSO: Vienna will ‘soon’ reach two million residents

The largest net increase in population was seen in Vienna, which got 50,000 new residents last year and is expected to pass the 2 million mark either this year or next.

Lower and Upper Austria saw the next highest increases at around 20,000 and 18,000 people, respectively. Styria saw another 17,000 new residents.