ACA audited the consolidation of locations regarding the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF)

17.04.2020 - The ORF should have assessed a completely new construction more seriously

In order to be able to meet future challenges, the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) decided in 2012 to merge its three headquarters in Vienna (Küniglberg, Heiligenstadt, Argentinierstraße) at a joint media location.

In its report “Austrian Broadcasting Corporation: Consolidation of Locations - First Construction Phase”, which was published today, the ACA criticises that the ORF management took the decision without carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of a new construction beforehand. The audit spanned the years from 2012 through 2106. This period is designated by the ACA as “construction phase 1”.

On a positive note: broadcast outages never occurred despite major construction works

Since 2004, the ORF had been aware of damages at the buildings of the ORF headquarters. Consequently, the ORF developed the following three scenarios:

  • new construction in Vienna (Wien-Erdberg),
  • consolidated renovation (merging of all ORF headquarters at the Küniglberg), and
  • unconsolidated renovation (renovation of the Küniglberg headquarters and retaining of the headquarters at the Argentinierstraße and the Heiligenstädter Straße).

While some aspects – no restrictions due to monument protection, synergy effects or good transport connections – suggested a new construction in Wien-Erdberg, “a broad majority in favour of a consolidation at a new location could not be reached” at the board of foundation. With regard to such a new location, the ORF feared the public rejection and the drawbacks resulting therefrom for the corporation. The ACA finds that the arguments regarding the decision taken in favour of a consolidation at the Küniglberg headquarters are not sufficiently substantiated. All scenarios should have been assessed and evaluated with regard to costs, risks as well as advantages and disadvantages. A comprehensive risk analysis and assessment was lacking.

During the renovation of building 1 at the Küniglberg, the ORF was confronted with numerous challenges: it, for example, also had to guarantee broadcasting despite the major construction works. The ACA positively notes that no production and broadcast outages occurred until the end of the audit.

Entering again into a dialogue on a transport concept

The consolidation of locations at the Küniglberg also requires the city of Vienna and the ORF to take a decision on a transport concept. This is important because up to 860 ORF employees are to work additionally at the Küniglberg after the central corporate functions have been merged. The ACA criticises that the responsible city councillor, the district council of Hietzing (13th district of Vienna) and the ORF have not yet agreed on a transport concept. The district council, for example, requested additional parking spaces at the ORF grounds in order to prevent a “total obstruction of the surrounding area by parked vehicles”. Furthermore, the use of private vehicles runs contrary to the overarching concepts of the city of Vienna: the City Development Plan 2025 of the city of Vienna stipulates a reduction of motorised private transport by 7 per cent. The ACA recommends that the city of Vienna and the ORF re-enter into a dialogue on the elaboration of a transport and mobility concept after the coronavirus crisis.

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Report: Austrian Broadcasting Corporation: Consolidation of Locations – First Construction Phase (in German)

From April 2017 to July 2018, the ACA carried out an audit of the project regarding the consolidation of locations of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF).

Report: Austrian Broadcasting Corporation: Consolidation of Locations – First Construction Phase (in German) Download