In Austria, press freedom has been undermined by various political pressures or restrictions on access to information. Violence at public events prevented journalists from reporting freely.
The current daily newspaper market is quite small and concentrated, with 14 important medias. The threatened demise of the oldest daily newspaper, the Wiener Zeitung, would further weaken pluralism. The newspapers with the widest reach are the tabloids.
Attempts to influence the press are constant in Austria. There is a suspicion that politicians have bought coverage in the tabloid media with taxpayers' money, while others have tried to intervene by visiting editorial offices, like former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. He actually was forced to resign in 2021 due to suspicions of buying positive coverage in a private newspaper.
Austria is the last EU member state that does not yet have a freedom of information law, but various bills are underway to remedy this, such as one to abolish state secrecy. The "right of access to information" should also be constitutionalized. However, these bills have yet to be passed by Parliament, although they have been ready since early 2021.
Quality media are in financial difficulty, which led some of their representatives to call for the urgent adoption of a new law on press subsidies. This would allow public funds to be allocated on the basis of the quality of media content rather than on the basis of circulation, as is currently the case. Tabloids have the highest advertising revenues because of their large circulation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has polarized part of Austrian society, and far-right activists and opponents of vaccination have not hesitated to threaten and assault journalists during demonstrations.
Reporters' coverage of protests faced increasing obstruction from police threatening legal action or harassment through repeated identity checks. Women journalists are particularly at risk. Threatening letters sent to newsrooms are also commonplace.