Swiss publishers seek cooperation with tech giants

The publishers of the major Swiss media companies are looking for new business models and collaborations with the big international technology groups. They do not want to be tech obstructionists, as they said in unison at the Swiss Media Forum in Lucerne.

(Archive image: SwissMediaForum)

The heads of the major media companies exchanged views in the so-called elephant round on Thursday: NZZ CEO Felix Graf, SRG Director General Gilles Marchand, TX Group President Pietro Supino, Ringier CEO Marc Walder and CH Media CEO Michael Wanner.

They want to meet the challenges posed by artificial intelligence (AI) and the big tech platforms with an open mind - they agreed on this point. There may not yet be a sustainable business model, said Felix Graf, "but we don't want to come across as tech opponents; we need to find a business model and work together with the platforms in a spirit of fairness".

"The public should find answers with us"

In the old world, parts of texts were used, said Marc Walder. In the new world, which is just beginning, entire content such as texts or videos would be taken over and used for training purposes for artificial intelligence, for example. Walder also said: "You can't be a tech obstructionist."

If the public wants to ask a chat in order to get answers, then you have to make sure "that they get the answers from us and not somewhere else", said Walder. Ringier has therefore launched a cooperation with Google. This approach was also used by the Wall Street Journal which has just signed a contract with the software and AI company Open AI ( reported).

No access by AI giants

CH Media currently has no cooperation of this kind in its quiver, said Michael Wanner. But the path must always lie somewhere between cooperation and lawsuits abroad.

Meanwhile, Pietro Supino still sees a lot of potential in his own companies: "We can create more added value in journalism and write more about topics that interest the public." Swiss publishers are also called upon not to make their content accessible: "We have to protect our inventories from being accessed by the AI giants." This is also a challenge for SRG.

Ermotti: Today's UBS "too big to fail"

On the first day of the two-day forum, the Chairman of the Board of Directors Andrea Masüger, the President of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions Pierre-Yves Maillard, Israel's Ambassador to Switzerland, Ifat Reshef, and UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti also made an appearance. Ermotti acknowledged that UBS in its current form is "too big to fail" - that the bank cannot be let go by the state due to its size and its interconnectedness with the financial system and the economy.

"We are aware of our responsibility," said Ermotti. And he also agrees that some adjustments to the regulatory framework conditions are necessary: "They must be designed in such a way that no state or taxpayer would have to rescue us if the worst came to the worst."

A looming dispute between Ermotti and Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter has recently been discussed in the media. The point of contention is the demand for stricter capital requirements for UBS. According to Finance Minister Keller-Sutter, UBS could have to build up additional capital in the region of CHF 15 to 25 billion.

Ermotti did not address the question of equity, but tried to take the wind out of the sails a little: "We agree with 80 to 90 percent of the 22 measures proposed by the Federal Council in its 'TBTF report'," he said. (SDA/swi)

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