The referendum on media subsidies is expected to be held on February 13, but the Federal Council has not yet set the date. The referendum was submitted one day before the deadline.
The committee chaired by former National Councilor and media entrepreneur Peter Weigelt (FDP/SG) collected more than twice as many signatures as needed for a referendum. For the opponents, the media subsidy is a "state policy sin and a breach of the constitution," economically discriminatory and damaging in terms of democratic policy.
The existing postal tax reduction for print media is already constitutionally questionable. The direct subsidy decided by parliament, however, is an "absolute no-go," the committee wrote.
Public debate opened
It welcomes the fact that the referendum has "forced" a broad public debate on the role of the media in democracy and their attitude toward the state. The private media companies and SRF radio and television could no longer maintain their refusal to discuss the issue before a referendum, the committee writes.
Private media would now cost taxpayers 400 million francs a year. Over the seven-year term of the law, this would add up to around three billion francs. In addition, state-funded media would prevent public debate, destroy freedom of expression and are poison for democracy.
The referendum is supported by a non-partisan parliamentary committee from the SVP, the center and the FDP.
120 million additional per year
On the same day, a citizens' movement for media funding, founded on Monday evening, spoke out. It had been launched by media such as the Weekly newspaper WoZ or exponents such as Hansi Voigt, the founder of the Internet medium Watson. In times of constant pressure from large companies and expensive PR consultants on media professionals, state media funding guarantees the independence of the media and secures their existence.
Parliament approved the media subsidy in the summer session. Over seven years, the media in Switzerland will receive direct and indirect funding of 120 million francs more than before. This will benefit print media, the member and foundation press, online media, news agencies such as Keystone-SDA, and media training. (SDA)