A reminder finger for the NZZ

Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger wants more TV competition in eastern Switzerland

Federal Councilor Moritz Leuenberger wants more TV competition in eastern SwitzerlandBy Markus Knöpfli An end to the journalistic uniformity in St. Gallen: Tele Top may now break the Tagblatt monopoly in print, radio and TV. Tele Ostschweiz and Tele Südostschweiz may also expand, but they will remain smaller than Tele Top.
Last week's media release from the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (Uvek) on the subject of the eastern Swiss TV scene must have struck a discordant note in NZZ ears: The department expected "with the approval of Tele Top, an increased media diversity in the St. Gallen area, which today is economically dominated by one company." The Tagblatt Group, which in addition to the St. Galler Tagblatt also includes Radio Aktuell and Tele Ostschweiz, is majority-owned by the NZZ.
The fact is that the Uvek has granted Tele Top permission to broadcast its program in the districts of St. Gallen and Rorschach as well as in the half-cantons of Appenzell in the future, Tele Ostschweiz is allowed to expand its broadcast area in the Wil area and in the upper Rhine Valley as far as Sargans, and Tele Südostschweiz is given permission to broadcast its program in the lower Rhine Valley.
The Uvek rejected the extension of Tele Südostschweiz to St. Gallen because "the St. Gallen market is too small for three broadcasters. According to the ruling, the Uvek believes Tele Top is more likely to create a competitive situation in St. Gallen.
Combative tones from the Eulach city
The Uvek decision is also explosive in another context: On March 6, the St. Galler Tagblatt announced in a good half-page article that a merger of Tele Top and Tele Ostschweiz was only "a question of timing" for economic reasons.
Although talks have taken place between Tele Top and Tele Ostschweiz, Tele Top's interest is likely to have waned. In any case, harsh tones can be heard from the Top communiqué. "Due to the more than 15 years of experience of Radio Top and Tele Top with monopoly situations in other agglomerations", St. Gallen could "expect an enrichment of the journalistic content". Those who have been fighting for 15 years will not be so quick to throw themselves into the arms of the old aunt.
Jürg Bachmann, Managing Director of Tele Ostschweiz, assumes that talks with Tele Top will continue. René Wehrlin from the Federal Office of Communications also thinks so. Media diversity would not be achieved with a merger in eastern Switzerland, he emphasizes. But, "I personally think a merger is likely for economic reasons."
The new TV situation in eastern Switzerland

Tele Top TeleEast Switzerland TeleSouth East Switzerland Schaffhausen TV
Technical range 500000 220000 250000 36000
Telecontrol since February 2000 since March 2000 under negotiation no
Annual budget 2.5 million Fr. 4.5 million Fr. 1.5 million Fr. 1 million Fr.
current advertising rate Fr. 40.-/sec.* Fr. 30.-/sec.** Fr. 25.-/sec.* Fr. 17.-/sec.
10 broadcasts 10 broadcasts 1 broadcast (Mon-Fri) 9 broadcasts
*Tariff remains despite larger broadcast area **Tariff may be adjusted upward

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