Alexander Wrabetz: ORF chief wants to ban employees from political criticism

Austrian broadcasting is planning what the FPOe has long been calling for: editors should not be able to express themselves politically in social media. The works council is appalled.

Alexander Wrabetz: ORF chief wants to ban employees from political criticism

The head of Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), Alexander Wrabetz, wants to prohibit his employees from political expression on social media. This is based on a draft of an internal service statement, which is in Austrian daily Der Standard. According to this, employees "also in private environment" should refrain from politically valuable comments in social media.

According to standard, document was apparently sent to a part of ORF radio staff in error. The file info would be an employee of ORF Director General Wrabetz as an author. The draft was created at end of last week. Before directives come into force, discussions with works council and Redakteursrat are foreseen, it says.

According to information, service instruction is directed to all journalists and programme-shaping employees of ORF. These should dispense with public statements in social media that "interpret, reject or judge statements, sympathy, antipathy, critique and ' polemic ' against political institutions, ir representatives or members The standard is quoted from draft. These included indirect expressions of opinion such as likes, dislikes, recommends, retweets or shares.

The functioning of social media means that third parties could often be difficult or not to distinguish between professional and private statements, it continues. ORF employees have a special responsibility that ir opinions in social media have no doubts about credibility of ORF.

In order to keep my great job with public radio, I am not allowed to express anything in public, which can be interpreted as "critique". But also not as "consent, rejection or evaluation". So: no comment. orfwiewir FreedomOfSpeech

— Luke Tagwerker (@LukasTagwerker) June 26th, 2018

Representatives of conservative ÖVP and right FPOe have been demanding stricter rules for editors on Twitter and Facebook for years on ORF board. Since May, Chairman of foundation is Norbert Steger, who sits on board for FPOe. According to standard, draft for new social media guidelines will be presented in plenary session of Board of Trustees on Thursday.

Debate also in Germany

Gerhard Moser, head of ORF Central Works council, described rules to standard as " knee of incumbent Director-General before black-blue wishes and dictates to ORF journalists". Black and blue are colors of ÖVP and FPOe. The instructions were unavailable as long as y had not been discussed and negotiated with Central Works council, Moser told newspaper.

In Germany, too, re are always demands that employees of public-sector media institutions and journalists should generally refrain from making political statements with ir private accounts on social media as well. The debate is also being held within media: editor-in-chief of West German newspaper, Ulli Tückmantel, operates about two Twitter accounts: a private and a professional.

Date Of Update: 27 June 2018, 12:02

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