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Konrad Mitschka Expert Discussion How does ORF know what media quality actually is? Does it determine that itself? Who defines demands and expectations? Expert:innen discussions within the framework of ORF quality assurance provide an answer to this question. The focus is on external expertise: What does science say? What do media experts demand? What do ORF's stakeholders expect? To find out, ORF invites you to an "Expert:innengesprch". Decided on by the ORF Board of Trustees as part of the ORF quality assurance system, it takes the form of a moderated group event as a way of deepening the dialogue between program representatives and experts in the relevant field. The expertise and opinions of experts involved in the respective topic are thus given broader scope.

Every year, the content areas of information, culture/religion, sports, entertainment and science/education/life support are discussed in the media of television, radio, teletext and the Internet on the basis of the requirements of ORF's core mission and ORF's programming guidelines, and reviewed by means of external reflection. The "Expert:innengesprche" are organized by ORF's Public Value Competence Center, which involves the relevant ORF editorial departments in preparation. Thus, the participants are determined on the basis of research and editorial expertise, available publications and relevant competence. In order to take into account the heterogeneity of the external perspective, new scientists and experts are always invited. Responsible senior editors from the editorial offices take part in the discussion. Following an analysis of the weaknesses and strengths of the media content, the focus is on the expectations of the experts. Criticism and expectations inevitably result in a demanding reflection on media quality, which, due to the length of the discussions, which often last several hours and are conducted in individual working groups, always concerns concrete media content. The central point of reference in the expert discussions is also ORF's fulfillment of its public service mission.

The public value quality dimensions and performance categories are used for this purpose. In order to incorporate the changes in the course of the digital transformation, young people are also invited to an increased extent, which should enable current and often provocative objections and demands to be taken into account. In 2022, a dialog workshop was held specifically for this purpose with young people from all over Austria, in which members of the ORF management, among others, participated on the part of ORF. In the last third of the discussions, the expectations of the experts are addressed in order to take a look at future quality media production. The aim is to develop a concrete profile of requirements that will help ORF meet expected challenges.

From ORF's point of view, it can be stated on the basis of previous experience with the Expert:innengesprche that they represent a competent reflection of ORF's media production, enabling quality control of existing services and orientation for the future at the same time. Since broadcasting managers and editors from the respective program areas are also invited to the talks, a direct, discursive exchange between media practice and media criticism is created. In order to ensure that all of the experts' demands can be openly addressed and discussed, the dialog does not take place in public. In the process, the discussion is sometimes very critical. For example, in the most recent 2022 conversation on entertainment, a well-known cabaret artist said that "the educational mission in entertainment is in danger of being lost," and a high-ranking manager from the entertainment sector expressed the fear that "the level will be leveled down" via economic pressure. Others, such as a well-known podcaster, emphasized the added value of individual programs - in this case FM4 - or, like a university professor specializing in the topic, called for diversity of players.

The experts agreed that ORF should do everything possible to be able to present its content comprehensively online. Here, the academics took particular issue with the so-called "seven-day limit" (i.e., the ban on publishing content online for longer than a week after broadcast) or the impossibility of establishing an Austrian "funk". After all, according to one creative industry manager, "ORF has a duty to be a leading medium." In discussion rounds with a different thematic focus, for example, there was a call for regular informal encounters with science or an increase in the proportion of science reporting. Accessibility and independence from politics were just as much a topic as a critical examination of patriotism in sports, the promotion of marginal sports or the verification of content by interviewing experts, for which 1 in particular was praised. Looking to the future, the experts emphasized that there must be a public service counter-offer to commercial algorithms. A representative of the Austrian Academy of Sciences also discussed the connection between artificial intelligence and public service reporting; he saw a possible role for editors in "taking on moderating activities in the sense of more participation." Finally, when asked about the ORF's information performance in 2020, representatives of the scientific community expressed themselves positively ("a rock in the surf," as a director of studies at a university of applied sciences put it; or "political information in Austria is inconceivable without ZiB," as a representative of the Austrian Academy of Sciences put it), but urgently demanded, for example, "a constantly expanding range of people who are invited to participate in information programs" (according to a representative of the University of Salzburg) and, in particular, the increased production of explanatory videos (a representative of the University of Innsbruck).

From ORF's point of view, it can be summarized that the talks represent a reflection on one's own performance that is removed from everyday life and provides orientation. It is not necessarily a matter of immediately implementing individual demands. This would be impossible for legal reasons - for example, in the case of demands for more presence on the web - or would generally be contrary to the necessary journalistic freedom in the sense of a direct obligation. However, it is very much a matter of obtaining indications of future programming orientation and incorporating them into programming considerations. For example, the patriotism practiced in sports commentary was discussed more intensively in other quality assurance measures, or an expert database was set up to promote diversity of actors. These measures cannot be attributed to individual causes, but they are also based in ORF's quality assurance.

All in all, the ORF editors had the opportunity to make contact with over a hundred experts from various fields of knowledge through the Expert:innengesprche. Religion was just as much a topic as, for example, culture, sports or entertainment. Representatives of successful social media offerings were able to raise their voices just as much as those responsible for various civil society institutions. Leading scientists, successful Austrian creatives and representatives of the younger generation were all able to make their voices heard in the expert discussions. ORF will continue to pursue this path of cooperation, of qualified listening to one another, of encounters focused on questions of quality, in order to secure its role as a medium of society in the future as well - and to fulfill its obligation to its users to provide public value.