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TV Licence Vote (Read 593 times)
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TV Licence Vote
Mar 4th, 2018, 11:57am
Voters in Switzerland went to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to abolish the mandatory licence fee for public broadcasting.
At the moment each household pays 451 Swiss francs a year ($480; £348) to receive television and radio. Additional funding comes from a limited amount of advertising.
The public broadcaster, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), offers countrywide programming in all four national languages (German, French, Italian, and Romantsch) as well as a number of local television and radio stations.

This Tweet from Mathieu von Rohr (Deputy Head of Foreign Desk Der SPIEGEL) says:-

"Vote to cut Swiss public broadcast licence fee rejected overwhelmingly"

"This is clear: 7 out of 10 want public media in Switzerland. A clear mandate, a clear commitment to make a programme for everyone in the country - including all those who have voted differently today. #ServicePublic"

"Das ist deutlich: 7 von 10 wollen öffentliche Medien in der Schweiz. Ein klarer Auftrag, eine klare Verpflichtung, Programm zu machen für alle im Land - auch alle, die heute anders gestimmt haben. #ServicePublic"

More about the Swiss system here.

This is from the UK FT
(Dated February 28th- several days before the result):-

Swiss TV licence vote a concern for all public broadcasters

Result favouring abolition would pose a warning shot to Europe’s fee-backed model

Switzerland is often a test bed for radical ideas, thanks to its frequent referendums. European media companies, or indeed anyone interested in a vibrant media, should tune in on Sunday when the country votes on a proposal to abolish its mandatory television licence fee.

Independent public service broadcasting is ingrained across Europe. In the UK, the BBC commands wide support; in Switzerland, the media landscape is similarly dominated by a sprawling public broadcaster, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG), which produces sometimes enlightening, sometimes excruciatingly worthy, TV and radio programmes tailored to the country’s regions, lifestyles and four languages.

But to the free-market liberals behind Sunday’s vote, who are backed by the ultra-conservative Swiss People’s party (SVP), the county’s most popular political group, the annual SFr451.10 licence fee per household smacks of big government and excessive taxation.

Their campaign has triggered a searching debate, which could be mirrored in other countries, about the public broadcaster’s role in promoting national identity and culture (and not just Heidi films) — but also in stifling private sector rivals.

In a digital age, traditional Swiss private media outlets are under pressure. Switzerland’s size, with a population of just 8.4m, limits audiences. Advertising revenues have tumbled, and worries about losing market share means even the best known publications, such as the German language Neue Zürcher Zeitung, still allow free access online to much of their output.

There is no imminent crisis. The Swiss are conservative media consumers; each morning the cafés in Zurich, Bern and Geneva still fill with newspaper readers. But there is a clear need to update business models. One of the strongest arguments of the anti-licence fee campaign is that a powerful, state-backed broadcaster has deterred innovation and investment in the local private sector.

Supporters counter that, alongside the military, the SRG is one institution uniting Switzerland. They fear a Switzerland without a public broadcaster would be swamped by foreign subscription TV services. Another worry is of a privately run media dominated by billionaire media barons. Christoph Blocher, the wealthy SVP leader, owns a third of the Basler Zeitung as well as a chain of free newspapers.

Switzerland, however, still has a plethora of news and cultural organisations. Countering Mr Blocher’s influence is a newly launched news and analysis site, Republik. Against that background, the SRG, which operates seven TV and 17 radio stations, plus numerous websites, has exceeded what might be regarded as reasonable public service obligations.

Spending per capita on public broadcasting in Switzerland is the second highest in the world after Norway, according to a CBC/Radio-Canada study. Other Europeans enjoy much cheaper public broadcasting: the UK licence fee costs just £147 (SFr193).

The anti-licence fee campaign argues that a Yes vote on Sunday would not end the SRG; it would merely be forced to operate commercially on advertising and subscription revenues. “The Swiss media landscape should be determined by consumer preferences — and not be part of some master plan,” says Florian Schwab, economics correspondent of Die Weltwoche magazine and member of the committee behind Sunday’s proposition.

Opinion polls suggest the anti-licence fee campaign will fail. Supporters admit being too ambitious; they could have simply proposed halving the fee. In January, the Swiss publishers association — whose members would benefit from a SRG without public funding — decided to oppose the initiative, saying it went too far.

Nevertheless, a strong vote in favour would send a warning shot to Europe’s public broadcasters. The publishers association expects the SRG in future “not to use the privilege of licence fee funding to compete with private media”. The government plans to cut the fee to SFr365 — or a franc a day. “Whatever happens, the SRG won’t be the same,” says one media watcher in Zurich.

A humbled SRG will not solve the problems of struggling Swiss media outlets, but it could bring some relief.

The FT report was by Ralph Atkins in Zurich.

This is from The Local.ch (March 2018)    

"Swiss voters on Sunday looked set to reject a proposal that would see public broadcasters lose taxpayer funding, following a campaign that stirred debate about the media's role in fostering national unity."  

This is from Le News.ch  (December 2017) ....

"A recent survey done by the newspapers SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche show 57% of those surveyed will vote to have the fee axed. Only 34% were in favour of preserving the current compulsory system which charges households CHF 451 every year, falling to CHF 395 from 2019."
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