SRG ombudsmen note flood of complaints about Middle East conflict

The war in the Middle East has led to a flood of complaints about programs and online contributions from Swiss Radio and Television SRF. Within two months, 80 complaints had been submitted, the ombudsmen of SRG Deutschschweiz announced on Friday.

Esther Girsberger and Kurt Schöbi have headed the ombudsman's office of SRG German-speaking Switzerland since 2020. (Image: SRG)

"Not even during the coronavirus pandemic, with over 1,000 complaints in both 2020 and 2021, did the mediation office receive as many submissions within two months as it did for the events after October 7, 2023," according to the ombudsmen's annual report published on Friday.

According to the press release, the ombudsmen received a total of 836 submissions in the reporting year 2023. 35 of these were partially or fully approved.

Gender language less criticized

In addition to the Middle East conflict, the topics of climate, wolves, the SVP and Covid regularly led to complaints, as in previous years. However, the ombudsmen wrote that the anger over the gender language had died down or the critics had become accustomed to it.

There are now often complaints that too little attention is paid to the female form. As an example, the ombudsmen cited a criticism that only "farmers" were mentioned instead of "female farmers".

"Violent statements"

The ombudsmen also criticized the tone used by many of the complainants. They were repeatedly left speechless by the vehement statements and terms used in the complaints, they wrote. For example, they described SRF as partly responsible for the fact that Jewish citizens in Switzerland have increasingly been the target of anti-Semitic accusations since the terrorist attack on October 7. On the other hand, SRF has been accused of supporting genocide and the apartheid regime in Israel.

Overall, the ombudsmen gave SRF good marks. "Even if the ombudsmen would occasionally weight the contributions differently or welcome a different choice of topics, the work of the editorial teams is competent, varied and extremely impressive," they wrote. (SDA)

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