AUSTRIA. Critical junctures in the media transformation process.
Although comparative media systems research often emphasizes characteristics that place Austria in the same category with other democratic-corporatist media systems in Northern and Western Europe, an analysis of critical junctures in the media transformation process since the turn of the millennium reveals a number of challenges that put such a classification into ques-tion. However, not all of them are typically Austrian. In the context of legal and ethical regula-tion, the case study points out several shortcomings of the regulatory safeguards that exist and deplores a lack of incentives for more media self-regulation. In the field of journalism, the most significant challenges relate to recent developments of the media market and lead to the insight that media plurality in Austria is currently under threat. Regarding media audiences, the study discusses the recent deregulation of the broadcasting sector and the impact of foreign media products as being typically Austrian context factors. These factors shape media usage, while challenges such as the general trend towards digitization and media convergence and, more recently, the impact by the Covid-19 pandemic have a broader scope and are also prominent in other countries. The examination of risks and opportunities for media-related competencies turns the spotlight onto the ongoing transformation from traditional mass media to social media and emphasizes the resulting challenges for the educational sector. The presented findings offer a starting point for a more nuanced comparative evaluation in the European context.