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Von: Eurolang (Brigitte Alfter ) / News-Sevice
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Austria is aware of its minorities. Last Friday, parliament passed the Legal Requirement safeguarding a constitutional aim to protect the six recognised minorities. Tomorrow (Thursday July 13) Chancellor Schüssel will unveil the first of a number of bilingual signs in the province of Burgenland.
Even though bilingual signs are guaranteed by the constitution of 1955, the Croatian minority in the province had to wait 45 years before the present government passed regulations so that they could be put in place. Also in Burgenland, the Hungarian language in bilingual areas is also to be recognised as an official language.
Despite these changes, minority representatives are still concerned about ’a policy of symbols’, as a recent article in the minority magazine "Stimme" put it.
While legal protections are passed at the parliament, three minority radio stations are about to be closed this summer because their funding has not been extended.
Minority print-media is threatened by a sharp increase in postage costs from next year, as are other media produced by non-governmental organisations.
The situation for new and publicly financed minority radio stations appears worse still. Financial support from Vienna to cultural as well as minority radio stations has been reduced and in some cases is due to stop. Among media affected are three minority radio stations, the quadrilingual station Antenne 4, bilingual Radio Agora and Slovene station Radio Korotan.
According to the minority department at the Chancellors office in Vienna, the present government considers the subvention for the three stations as start-up assistance, while the former government intended to make the support permanent.
The quadrinlingual station in Burgenland, which targets its programmes at a youth audience, expects to stop broadcasting by the end of this month, according to Chief Editor, Josko Vlasic.
The Director of one of the Carinthian radio stations, Angelika Hödl, describes the situation as extremely embarassing: her station expects to broadcast for two more months, yet she does not know whether or not to give notice to her employees.
Neither Hödl nor Vlasic have been able to get information about future funding, the Chancellor's Office has so far not commented on future arrangements.
Rrepresentatives of the minority radios plan to meet the Chancellor himself, when he visits Gross Warasdorf/Veliki Boristof tomorrow to unveil the first bilingual sign in Burgenland.