November 21st 2019

Media, internet and society.

Market power of the Internet giants endanger not only European TV stations, but also democracy.

Markus Breitenecker bei seinem spannenden Vortrag am MCI.


In his guest lecture at MCI, Markus Breitenecker, CEO of the Austrian private television broadcaster PULS 4, refers to his TV station as a Game Changer *. The goal is to shape the transformation of a classic television station into a modern digital company. The linear programming is to be gradually converted into a mobile, on-demand service.

With its mixture of entertainment and information, so-called "public value formats", supplemented by live sports and domestic show and film productions ("local shows"), the station has been captivating the Austrian audience for 15 years. The real challenge, however, is "to continue to finance content production exclusively through advertising, when at the same time there are companies that receive their contributions free of charge and also generate considerable advertising revenues," he says, describing the existential problems that television and program makers are currently facing. The competition no longer comes from other TV stations, but from the Internet: Internet giants such as Google, YouTube or Facebook have long been among the content providers, but have clear advantages over their competitors: they rely, for example, on the host provider privilege, which means that they assume no liability for content on their platforms. They receive the contributions free of charge, and in addition, they earn considerable advertising revenue. Traditional TV stations, on the other hand, employ editorial and production teams, and are financed by advertising revenue and - in the case of public broadcasters - also by fees. In addition, television broadcasters are subject to a much stricter set of legal regulations.

The enormous market power of the Internet giants not only threatens the existence of television stations, but it can even be assessed as a threat to democracy, explains Breitenecker: “Polarizing posts on social media are shared and liked much more, they have a greater reach and more advertising. By this means, the information is distributed from the middle to the extremes." 

Nevertheless, there are ways out of the misery. However, these would require the closing of the ranks of television stations: “We have to stop feeding the enemy. We are no longer allowed to give away our content free of charge to Facebook or YouTube.” In order to stand up to the American Internet giants, forces should be pooled to develop our own European social media platforms. The fees of the public service broadcasters should be used for the financing.

"Gamechangers" is also one of the most successful formats of the private broadcaster PULS4. It is a multidimensional platform, which brings together a wide variety of people, companies and products from all over the world in order to develop new ideas and new dynamics.

PULS 4 is an Austrian private television station. The “4” in the name refers to the fourth full program in Austria with its own news reports. PULS 4 went on air for the first time in 2004 (at that time still under the name of Puls TV). In 2007 the station was taken over by ProSiebenSat.1.