Federal Council outlines scenarios for the future of the agency Keystone-SDA

Like almost the entire media industry, the Keystone-SDA news agency is struggling with structural changes. However, the Federal Council still considers a national agency necessary - and has outlined three scenarios for its future financing.

According to the postulate report requested by the National Council and published on Friday, the news agency plays an important role in the media ecosystem. With its services, it offers the media a solid and reliable foundation with news, supporting them in reporting on regional, supra-regional, national and international events.

However, Keystone-SDA is struggling to make a basic multilingual service profitable and is seeing a decline in customer numbers. In addition, according to the Federal Council, it suffers from the fact that publishers are both its customers and its owners, who in economic crisis situations usually give higher priority to their own interests than to the continued existence of the news agency.

Actual state or paradigm shift

For the future of the agency, the Federal Council is putting forward three scenarios for discussion: funding within the current framework; a moderate increase in financial support from the federal government; and a public invitation to tender for a performance contract with funding via the radio and television levy.

In the first scenario, Keystone-SDA would remain a for-profit public limited company and would continue to be financed mainly by subscription revenues and deposits from its shareholders. If the agency stays with the status quo, its ability to innovate is a decisive factor for positive development, the Federal Council writes.

In the second scenario, government support would be reformulated and increased at the level of the Radio and TV Act. At the same time, more electronic media could benefit from subsidized basic services. Ultimately, it would be up to the Federal Council to define the level of subsidy from year to year.

In the third scenario, Keystone-SDA would be completely reorganized and given a public service mandate like SRG. This would require various changes at the legislative level. The agency would then be financed on the one hand by the revenue from subscriptions sold to private customers and on the other hand by public funds in an amount to be defined.

The Federal Council intends to examine the three scenarios in greater detail as part of a broader analysis of future media funding, which is to be presented in spring 2024. (SDA)

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