According to the committee, over 143'000 people have signed the petition "Fee monster - 200 francs are enough!" - around 135,000 of them on the Internet. Natalie Rickli assured the media in Bern on Tuesday that measures had been taken to prevent multiple signatures as far as possible. The petition was supported by the SVP, the young parties of SVP, FDP, CVP and EDU as well as by "Bye Bye Billag", a Facebook group, which under this title is supporting the Abolition of Billag and is preparing a popular initiative to this end.
Rickli considers the SRG's offering to be too large. She says there is no need for so many radio and TV stations to fulfill the public service: "What private stations can do should be left to the private ones." The involvement of Rickli, who sits on the management board of advertising marketer Goldbach Media Group, raises questions. Critics accuse her of pursuing personal interests. Weakening SRG brought business to her employer, which markets private radio and TV stations. She considers these attacks "highly questionable," Rickli told the Tagesanzeiger, referring to the militia system.
No device-independent fee
In addition, the committee opposes the parliament's decision that in the future every household and every company should pay fees - regardless of whether a receiver is available. The petition committee considers these Obligation to pay fees for unfair. According to Francisca Brechbühler, initiator of "Bye Bye Billag," there are "several thousand" people in Switzerland who consciously do without radio and television. According to the will of the Federal Council, only socially disadvantaged people should be exempt from the fees, the Council of States wants to exempt small businesses from the obligation to pay fees.
Regarding the collection agency, the petition also contains a demand: Billag should have to refund all savings and unpaid fee money to the fee payers. The members of the committee reserve the right to launch a popular initiative, said Rickli. At the moment, however, they lack the human and financial resources to do so.
Swiss Syndicate of Media Professionals SSM criticizes petition
In a statement, the Swiss Syndicate of Media Professionals SSM criticizes the petition submitted on Tuesday. A demand for a fee reduction sounds good, because "who wouldn't like to pay less for an SBB ticket, less for a postal letter or less for waste disposal fees". However, a fee reduction of 57 percent would result in the disappearance of many popular programs, according to the union. It would also harm Switzerland, since the fees are largely used to produce programs in all four national languages. A weakening of the public broadcasting offer would also lead to a strengthening of foreign broadcasters in Switzerland.
Caption (from right to left): Nathalie Rickli and her helpers Brenda Mäder and Francisca Brechbühler. (Keystone: Lukas Lehmann)