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Dr.in Eva Zeglovits
The representative survey is an annual measurement of audience satisfaction with ORF and its programming and content.
The study provides an overall picture of what people in Austria think of ORF. Thus, the overall study makes it possible to observe
satisfaction over time and, by looking at the big picture, provides a framework for other, more in-depth studies.
But how do you measure satisfaction with “the ORF”? There is no such thing
as “the” satisfaction with “the” ORF that can be expressed in a number. The range
of services is too diverse for that. Instead, the question must be approached
step by step and numerous different levels of satisfaction surveyed. For this
reason, the study distinguishes between genres and topics and differentiates
between media consumption in general and the use of ORF offerings and,
finally, satisfaction with them. The genres of interest are television, radio,
teletext and the Internet, and more recently also social media, although here
the use of the genre is first surveyed in general. Only in the second step is it
asked to what extent the ORF offerings are specifically used per genre. It is
obvious that the preferred genre depends on the content. One person likes to
watch feature films on television for entertainment but listens to the news on
the radio; another prefers to listen to music on the radio and catch up on the
latest events via the Internet on his or her cell phone while on the move. Or even
more specifically, someone who wants to follow a soccer match in detail may
prefer moving images, while someone who is only interested in the result will
be satisfied with a look at teletext. What makes the overall survey so special is
that it asks about topic interests in the various media genres to take account
of precisely such preferences.
Which topics basically interest the audience is asked based on four broad
topic categories, namely Sports, Entertainment, Culture and Information. Of
course, this is not always entirely separable – it is up to the respondents to assign
their music consumption to either entertainment or culture, for example. Now
it can be determined how much the audience is interested in sports coverage
on TV, or sports on TELETEXT, sports on the radio, and so on. Of particular interest to ORF, however, is the level of satisfaction with ORF’s offerings, again broken down by genre and subject area. It is well known that media usage differs between generations. For this reason, the analyses of the representative survey also repeatedly show these differences by age group.
It may come as no surprise that the younger generation is less interested in
information on television than the 50-plus generation, but this is not purely
due to the genre of television. In the case of sports, the youngest are more
interested in television than their elders. To ensure that the time sequence is not influenced by seasonal fluctuations, the survey is always carried during the same time where possible, usually between the beginning of May and mid-June. The schedule may vary slightly so that no planned major events such as a soccer World Cup fall into the survey period, which could influence subject interests. Unplanned events such as crises cannot, of course, be considered here. Fluctuations in the timing are therefore not unusual in times of multiple crises, as we are currently experiencing.
The pandemic can be interpreted here as having made a deep impression.
Occasionally, questions must be adjusted to take account of developments in
communications technology. For example, social media was introduced as a
separate genre in 2022. The survey was conducted “face-to-face” for many years; in 2020, measures against the coronavirus pandemic necessitated a change of method. Method changes are normally introduced gradually in studies with a time sequence, to smooth out method effects. This was not possible in the pandemic, so more care was taken to ensure that a well-considered mix of methods, and careful
sampling, provided the best possible continuity of the time sequence.
Since 2020, the survey has been conducted as a mixed-mode survey with
telephone and online interviews. The mix of methods should guarantee smooth
implementation. As before, the survey is representative of the resident population
aged 15 and older. The sample size of n=1,000 allows for a precision
that makes even minor fluctuations interpretable in the time sequence. In each
survey wave, it is also possible to look at subgroups such as generations. This
guarantees a certain degree of detail when looking at the big picture.