Future media subsidies remain controversial

There are still differences over future media funding. The Council of States has given in on three of the six points. However, unlike the National Council, it still does not want to impose any additional restrictions on the SRG's online offering. The Councils also disagree on the amount of the fee shares and the period of validity of the subsidy.

The matter will therefore go to the National Council for the third and final time. The National Council will deal with it again on Thursday. If there are still differences with the Council of States, there will be an agreement conference on 15 June, as the parliamentary services announced on request.

The Commission for Transport and Telecommunications of the Council of States (KVF-S) gives greater weight to the SRG's public service mandate than the competitive situation with the private sector, said Commission spokesman Stefan Engler (centre/GR) on Tuesday, explaining why the current regulation for the SRG online sector should be retained.

Not without consulting the industry

Further restrictions would contradict the usage habits and demands of the audience. In addition, further restrictions would also affect areas that would hardly be covered by private providers - especially culture and education.

The SRG's online offering is regulated in the licence and does not belong in the law, said Media Minister Simonetta Sommaruga. At the very least, further restrictions should be rejected without consulting the industry.

The difference regarding the amount of the fee for licensed radio and TV broadcasters also remains. The Council of States is sticking to "at least 8 percent". The National Council is in favour of a range of 6 to 8 percent. Currently, the share is 6 percent, which corresponds to CHF 81 million in subsidies for the private broadcasters.

Agreement on training and online start-ups

The Council of States has followed the National Council with regard to eligibility for contributions for the training and further education of journalists. The certificates and diplomas must be recognised by the industry. The requirement for a university level of degrees was dropped by the Council of States.

The Council of States also followed the National Council's lead on Tuesday regarding the possibility of promoting start-ups in the online sector. It is not a question of large sums of money, said Sommaruga. This would enable certain developments in the new media sectors.

The small chamber also agreed with the National Council on the assessment of the contribution to the chargeable turnover. It should be 60 percent of net sales. However, Engler stressed that this was linked to the hope and expectation that the National Council would follow the compromise proposal of the Council of States with regard to the time limit for media funding.

The small chamber proposes a time limit of 7 years for direct and indirect media promotion. After 4 years, the evaluation of the effects of the new regulations should begin. The National Council has so far insisted on a time limit of 5 years and an evaluation after only 3 years. Sommaruga said that 7 and 4 years respectively were a good compromise on this issue.

120 million more for the media

The Councils have reached agreement on the question of whether financial resources should be allowed to flow abroad for the benefit of news agencies. The Council of States has joined the National Council, which wants to allow business connections abroad. However, no financial resources - such as dividend payments - may flow out as long as the support from the Confederation is ongoing.

In total, the future funding measures are expected to provide the media with CHF 120 million more, directly or indirectly, than they receive today. The package includes amendments to the Postal Act, the Federal Radio and Television Act (RTVA) and a new federal law on the promotion of online media. (SDA)

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