Reporters Without Borders Switzerland speaks out clearly against "No Billag

Reporters Without Borders (ROG) Switzerland "decisively" rejects the popular initiative "No Billag," which will be presented to the people and the cantons on March 4, according to a statement. The bill represents "an unprecedented threat to the diversity and independence of the media and thus to Swiss democracy," it said.


ROG Switzerland is a non-partisan NGO that promotes freedom, diversity and independence of journalism and media and supports those who are committed to these ideals. The extreme demands of the No Billag Initiative has prompted ROG Switzerland to take an exceptional public stand, the organization wrote on Wednesday.

The text of the initiative - although the initiators now express themselves differently - is very clear and leaves little room for interpretation. The elimination of any form of public support from 2019 and the small size of the Swiss market would lead to the disappearance or drastic reduction of radio and TV programs and their Internet presences, both for SRG SSR programs and for the 34 regional private radio and TV stations that currently receive a share of fees, it says. ROG is convinced that this would seriously and permanently jeopardize the diversity of the Swiss media, which is already being impaired by technological changes, new media consumption habits and the flow of advertising money from national providers to large foreign groups. It would also jeopardize the functioning of semi-direct democracy in Switzerland and the free formation of opinion.

Acceptance of the initiative would also mean the abolition of any form of financial equalization between the regions, ROG fears. Today, this equalization enables SRG SSR to offer programs of equal quality throughout Switzerland; its disappearance would have particularly serious consequences for media diversity in the minority regions, i.e. in French, Italian and Romansh-speaking Switzerland, the NGO warns. (pd/hae)

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