Some who move to Switzerland might not be aware that they are almost certainly required to pay one of the world’s highest broadcasting fees. An annual Swiss licence costs CHF 451.10 per household.
A successful vote in 2015 changed the rules on who must pay the fee. From 2019, it will be compulsory for anyone with a primary or secondary residence in Switzerland to pay it, effectively making it a tax on all households. At a new lower price of CHF 400 It will become a little cheaper.
Many are unhappy with the fee, and a popular vote, aimed at scrapping it, is scheduled for spring next year. The No Billag initiative aims to eliminate the fee and the broadcaster in its current form.
A recent survey, designed to test the waters ahead of the upcoming vote, found that 47% plan to vote in favour of it. A further 16% said they were undecided. Only 37% said they would vote against it.
When asked why they’d accept the initiative, 27% said they needed to save money while 19% thought the fee was too high. In addition, 14% said they rarely or never watch programmes by the broadcaster, partly because they don’t like them.
53% of those with an opinion on what they would be prepared to pay if the fee was abolished, favoured reducing it to no more than CHF 200, less than half the current CHF 451.10. This is roughly what it costs in the UK, where households are charged £147 (CHF 191) annually. The percentage wanting the same fee reduction rose to 77% among supporters of the No Billag initiative.
Most didn’t think the broadcaster squanders money. Only 5% thought this.
To enable a fee cut, 65% supported the idea of cutting content to focus on news. Those in the linguistic minority (French and Italian speakers) were a little less keen on this idea with only 57% supporting it. 68% in the German-speaking region liked this idea. It was also popular (69%) among supporters of the No Billag initiative.
Cutting content is never easy. In 2015, the French language branch of the broadcaster provoked a strong reaction when it announced it was cutting religious programmes to save money.
However, when the threat is existential, like next year’s vote, ideas like cutting programmes and fees are more likely to return to the table.
The survey of 1,000 people, done by DemoSCOPE at the request of Schweizer Medien, took place between 28 August and 12 September 2017. Schweizer Medien is an association of private media companies in Switzerland.
DemoSCOPE survey (in German)