Publisher outraged by Roger de Weck

According to Schweiz am Sonntag, Roger de Weck has launched a lobbying offensive in Bern. The private publishers are outraged by his argumentation.


In the run-up to the public service debate, which starts on August 29, SRG's director general is beating the advertising drum in Bern. According to Schweiz am Sonntag, which cites several sources, de Weck sees quality journalism in danger because private publishers will have more and more trouble guaranteeing and financing it in the future. SRG is therefore needed as a bulwark of independent quality journalism.

He divides the publishers into two groups. The first group has already shifted its focus to other business areas and is tending to sell off journalistic products. According to the author, this refers to Tamedia and Axel Springer. The second group - which probably includes NZZ, AZ Medien and Somedia - continues to concentrate on journalistic offerings, but could be forced to sell products as a result of a major economic crisis.

According to this theory, Christoph Blocher is the most likely buyer of these voluntary and involuntary sales. This theory is supported by research recently disseminated by the magazine Schweizer Journalist that Blocher was planning his own Sunday newspaper and had wanted to exchange the Basler Zeitung for the Berner Zeitung.

De Weck's comments have been met with harsh criticism. Trade association director Hans-Ulrich Bigler considers them "scandalous and untenable. CVP President Gerhard Pfister thinks de Weck is talking down to the publishers "in order to portray SRG as the only guarantor that can secure diversity of opinion. He thus instrumentalizes the fear of Blocher in the media sector for SRG purposes.

Blocher himself is also critical of de Weck. It is "not the job of the head of state television to denigrate private publishers. That would be "damaging to the credit" of the publishers.

Somedia publisher and still President of the Swiss Media Association Hanspeter Lebrument also had harsh words to say. He considers it a "scandal" that the SRG director is badmouthing private publishers in private conversations with parliamentarians. The publishers are going through a difficult time, Lebrument admits. But it is an "absolute invention" of de Weck's that publishers are discontinuing products only because they are in certain difficulties. The results of the private companies are "decent" and they are not relinquishing their publishing expertise.

In contrast, de Weck has received support from SP National Councilor and ex-SRF employee Matthias Aebischer. He cannot be blamed in the game of "Everyone against SRG" when he stands up for the public service. He said he was not bothered when de Weck spoke about the danger of media concentration. BDP President Martin Landolt also thinks de Weck's concerns are "not pipe dreams." GLP President Martin Bäumle appreciates the clear words of the SRG Director General. (hae/SaS)

Image: OBS/SRG SSR/Danielle Liniger

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