SRG extends hand to publishers for cooperations

In the discussion about public service, SRG is counting on cooperation with the private media. Swiss radio and television and the publishers would have largely the same interests.


The publishers, for their part, want complementary media offerings. The SRG should not compete with private offerings. The struggle over the specific content of the public service between the private publishers and the SRG has been going on for years. The SRG's concession expires at the end of 2017. With an eye to the parliamentary debate, both sides once again made their positions clear at a conference of the Association of Swiss Media (VSM) in Bern on Wednesday.

SRG should fulfill its core mission

The private publishers recognize that SRG makes an important contribution to the basic supply of radio and TV services in all national languages, as VSM Vice President and Tamedia Board Chairman Pietro Supino said. However, they oppose the SRG's drive for expansion. SRG should rather concentrate on its content mandate. Self-restraint is necessary, especially in the online business. SRG is also pushing ahead in the advertising market with the establishment of the joint marketing platform of Swisscom, Ringier and SRG. If the SRG keeps its head down, there will be room for private offerings.

SRG calls for cooperation

SRG Director General Roger de Weck replied that cooperation rather than confrontation was the order of the day. In view of the powerful international competition from Google and Facebook, no one can be successful on their own anymore. If the Swiss media don't get their act together, there will be no more advertising money for them, he said. "I'm extending my hand for cooperation," de Weck called out to the publishers. As an example, de Weck mentioned the cooperation of Radio and Television of Western Switzerland (RTS) with local radio stations in the coverage of the European Football Championship in France. In technology (Smart TV/HbbTV), in marketing and in the exchange of content, the door is wide open for cooperation, he said. According to Jens Alder, former Swisscom Group CEO and now Chairman of the Board of Directors of media marketer Goldbach Group, the public service suffers from three system flaws. SRG's media offerings go beyond the basic service. Controlling is not transparent and the programs are a public good, i.e. they are not owned by SRG.

Report of the Federal Council

In a report last June, the Federal Council stated that Switzerland will continue to need independent public service offerings on radio, television and the Internet for reasons of democracy and social policy. The national government is relying on a mixed model of fees and advertising. SRG will continue to be prohibited from online advertising - as long as SRG's overall revenues remain stable. If revenues fall, the government reserves the right to reconsider this ban. The Federal Council is convinced that the SRG must adapt its public service offering to digital conditions. The Council of States will discuss the Federal Council's Service Public report on September 26. The preliminary committee for transport and telecommunications had previously rejected a referral of the report back to the Federal Council. The National Council committee had criticized the report last week and demanded an additional report. (SDA)

Image: Keystone/Marcel Bieri

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