Republic TV (1989)

After “The Project” by Minus Delta t, which took place at Ars Electronica in 1986, “Republic TV” was the second time that a container studio was set up at Ars Electronica – now under the name “Ponton”. This time, live television was to be made, which was to be broadcast over an unused service channel of the cable television provider LIWET in Upper Austria for 24 hours on one day, thus reaching 70,000 viewers. However, according to the legal situation at the time, this would have required the permission of the public broadcaster ORF, which it refused in order not to create a precedent for the abolition of its broadcasting monopoly.

Ponton complained in a telegram from Moscow to Federal Chancellor Vranitzky, the local press reported and there was even a rumour that they would set up a pirate radio station during ars electronica. Eventually Thaddäus Podgorski, chairman of ORF offered the group broadcasting time on the new cultural cable channel 3Sat,  joint project of ORF, ZDF and Swiss television. This is how contact was made with 3Sat, which later also broadcast the Ponton productions Hotel Pompino (1990), Piazza virtuale (1992)  and Service Area a. i. (1994) were broadcast.

On five dates between 0:00 and 3:00 a.m., Ponton was thus able to show a live show that included talks, sketches and performances from the Container Studio and the Bruckner House. Some of the segments of the show ridiculed popular television formats such as game or talk shows, while others showed unmoderated conversations among artists and Ars Electronica participants. The audience was encouraged to call in during some parts of the show, and mailbox chats were also occasionally inserted, all of these elements that would re-emergence in Piazza virtuale.

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