In the summer session, the National Council and the Council of States decided that the media in Switzerland should now receive CHF 120 million more in direct and indirect funding over seven years than before. (Werbewoche.ch reported).
This media promotion is unnecessary, wrong and dangerous for the referendum committee, which presented its arguments at a media conference in Bern on Tuesday. "At stake are the independence and credibility of the media - and of each individual journalist," explained Philipp Gut, communications consultant and publisher and managing director of the referendum committee. If the state fed the media, they would become state media.
As president of the referendum committee, former FDP National Councillor Peter Weigelt from St. Gallen declared that the media subsidies were unacceptable under constitutional law, harmful in terms of state and democratic policy and discriminatory in terms of competition policy. This direct media subsidy was a taboo and constitutional violation.
Article 93 of the Federal Constitution established a state-funded radio and television broadcaster. However, the other media were neither defined in the Constitution, nor had the people ever expressed their opinion on their subsidisation.
Weigelt described it as particularly objectionable that free newspapers and free online media are deliberately excluded from the subsidies. "In this way, the state is cementing the existing media monopolies at the expense of small private offerings and local and regional initiatives," Weigelt said.
Damage to young people and democracy
Young liberal politician Evelyn Motschi stressed that young people depend on obtaining information free of charge. "The media subsidy law may be well-intentioned, but it is counterproductive. It harms the young and democracy," the law student stated.
If the package of measures in favour of the media were to be adopted, free online media would not receive a single centime in subsidies, complained the Fribourg Young Liberal Alec von Barnekow. On the other hand, their direct competitors would receive generous subsidies. But it is not the task of politics or the state to favour one model over another.
Weigelt stressed that the referendum committee had so far not sought contact with parties, politicians or associations and had never actively participated in the debate. The aim had been to be able to start collecting signatures on a broad front at the same time as publication in the Federal Gazette. In the voting phase, however, the referendum committee wanted to open up and seek contact with parties and associations. (SDA)