Non-partisan committee campaigns for media funding

In view of the probable referendum vote on the media promotion package passed by parliament, a non-party Yes committee has been formed. This includes the Swiss Media Publishers Association and parliamentarians from all parliamentary groups with the exception of the SVP.

The temporary media package is needed to strengthen democracy-relevant reporting and regional diversity, the Freedom of Expression Committee said on Friday. Media companies face "huge" challenges in the face of falling revenues and pressure from global internet companies, it said. Moreover, social media without journalistic standards would influence the dissemination of information and opinions.

"The private Swiss media make an indispensable contribution to the basic provision of media in our Swiss direct democracy," the statement reads. This service must also be "urgently" guaranteed in the future.

120 million more

According to resolutions passed by parliament in the summer session, the Swiss media are to receive CHF 120 million more in direct and indirect funding over seven years than before. Printed media, the member and foundation press, online media, media training and news agencies such as Keystone-SDA are to benefit. According to the committee, over a hundred publishing houses, institutions and other organisations could be supported.

A committee under the name "No to state-funded media" collected signatures against the bill. According to information provided by the committee on Tuesday, the 50,000 signatures needed for a referendum have been collected, one month before the end of the collection period. This means that the people will probably be able to decide on media funding in February.

The opponents, made up of publishers, entrepreneurs, media professionals and 72 members of parliament, criticise the "unnecessary and harmful subsidies". If the state buys the media, they would become state media, the committee claims. "That would be the end of Switzerland's free and independent media landscape, as no one bites the hand that feeds you." (SDA)

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