Media commission calls for regulations for streaming services

The Federal Media Commission (FMEK) is calling for the existing regulation to be extended to streaming services in the interests of a level playing field. In addition, the Commission believes that journalism relevant to democracy should be supported regardless of the distribution channel.

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Digitalisation is completely transforming the media industry, the public and democracy, according to a report published by the EMEK on Monday. Today, media use is increasingly taking place on the internet and via mobile devices.

Broadcasting is getting additional competition from streaming services such as Netflix or Spotify. People are not using media content on the channels, websites and apps of media companies, but increasingly on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok or YouTube.

 

Introduce rules for streaming services

Streaming services lead to more competition and diversity, especially in the entertainment sector, but are not subject to the same regulation as broadcasting. The FMEC therefore calls for the existing regulation to be extended to streaming services in the sense of a level playing field.

In Switzerland, a revision of the film law is planned in the Federal Council's cultural message. As in the EU, streaming services are to meet a quota of 30 percent European content in the future. In addition, they should invest four percent of their gross revenues in Swiss filmmaking. The EMEK supports these proposals.

SRG SSR would continue to need stable funding in future, and its performance mandate would require it to produce its own programmes. Performance mandates should ensure that information, education and cultural programmes are produced.
For Swiss broadcasters, differentiation could only be achieved with in-house productions, but these were associated with high costs.

In addition to developing their own on-demand offerings, Swiss broadcasters could try to place their own productions on streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. For new providers of podcasts outside of established media organisations, the steaming services would thus offer the chance of attracting greater attention.

 

Dangers of platforms

Platforms offer numerous opportunities for democracy. Access to the public is becoming easier for individuals and groups, and new opportunities for information, discussion and participation are emerging. In addition, certain dangers such as so-called "filter bubbles" or "fake news" are greatly overestimated in public discourse.

However, platforms would make it more difficult to finance journalism, because advertising and use would shift to search engines and social networks. This would lead to cost-cutting measures in editorial offices and increased concentration processes in the media. This is problematic for a direct democracy.

 

Support journalism financially

The FMEC therefore proposes direct support for journalism and innovation so that journalism can continue to be financed in the future. The informative and critical function of journalism must be preserved.

What is needed is direct support for journalism that supports journalism relevant to democracy, regardless of the distribution channel. To finance this direct support, a levy on the advertising revenue of platforms and television advertising windows could be considered, writes the EMEK. However, this levy would have to be earmarked for a specific purpose.

The EMEK also proposes to help the media industry cope with digitisation by promoting innovation. This could support projects such as the development of modern offerings and algorithms. In addition, indirect support for infrastructures would be appropriate.

In addition to public support measures, tax incentives for donations to the media and tax deductions for subscriptions to editorial products could be considered. (SDA)

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