Committee warns against "destructive" No Billag initiative

The "No to the end of broadcasting" committee warns of the consequences of the No Billag initiative, which will be put to the vote on March 4. It is destructive and a lot of Swiss content would be lost with it.


"This initiative effectively abolishes the SRG and 34 private radio and TV stations because it deprives them of their financial basis." Diego Yanez, Director of the Swiss School of Journalism MAZ, was quoted as saying in a press release on Friday. This would mean the loss of a lot of Swiss content - a feature film like "Heidi" as well as the Lauberhorn race, the satirical show "Spasspartout" or the consumer magazines "Espresso" from SRF radio and "Kassensturz" from SRF television.

According to Yanez, the TV market does not work in small Switzerland with its four language regions. Nine out of ten television programs could not be financed. The fixed costs for an information program are similarly high, whether they are made for 5.5 million people in German-speaking Switzerland or for 82 million people in Germany.

For committee member André Moesch, President of TeleSuisse and Managing Director of Radio FM1 and TVO in St. Gallen, the fee pot is existential. The information programs of the private broadcasters cost a lot of money, especially for the medium of television. Without fees, they could no longer be financed.

Cultivating national cohesion

At a media conference in Bern, Emilia Pasquier, Managing Director of the think tank foraus, referred to national cohesion as a "child of the Röstigraben" that needs to be cultivated. SRG correspondents do a good job of communicating between the language regions, acting as actual translators. While the private media have reduced their correspondent networks in recent years, the SRG's network has remained the same size and quality.

Campaign leader Mark Balsiger criticized the destructive and therefore un-Swiss approach of the No Billag initiative. It would destroy the country's media diversity and a great deal of quality - especially in the radio sector. In German-speaking Switzerland alone, more than 2.6 million people listen to SRF radio programs every day. The market share is 58 percent and the average listening time is 105 minutes per day.

920,000 francs collected

For committee member and author Pedro Lenz, the CHF 920,000 collected so far from thousands of small donations is a clear sign that civil society has awoken. It is obvious that many people are against the abolition of radio and TV stations. The donations will be used to finance a poster campaign that will be visible from January 15 with the slogan "Less diversity, less Switzerland". The committee is also investing in social media and is planning a voting newspaper for the final phase of the referendum campaign. (SDA)

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