Josef Fritzl sentencing not covered at home

Austria's ORF runs regular programming during ruling

COLOGNE, Germany -- Thursday's sentencing of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter imprisoned in a dungeon for 24 years, fathering seven children with her, was breaking news around the world -- except in Austria, that is.

Locals had to turn to international outlets for live coverage of the court ruling that found Fritzl guilty of rape, incest, enslavement and murder by neglect of one of the children, sentencing him to life in a psychiatric facility.

ORF first carried the ruling in a short news bulletin at 3 p.m. -- some 45 minutes after the ruling was covered live on international news outlets CNN, BSkyB and Germany's nTV among others.

ORF played down its decision to run regular programming -- telenovelas and children's series -- during the sentencing. A channel spokeswoman told THR that, since no cameras were allowed in the courtroom, there was nothing to show until Fritzl left the building.

ORF viewers didn't see it that way. The broadcaster's complaint lines were flooded with calls from citizens demanding an explanation.

"I couldn't believe it. I'm Austrian. This is my national channel. How can they not cover this story?" one disgruntled viewer in Vienna said.

After the news bulletin, ORF quickly returned to regularly scheduled programming -- a rerun of "I Dream of Jeannie."