On 13 February 2022, Swiss voters will decide on whether to accept a federal law on a package of measures to support the media in Switzerland.
Switzerland’s government voted to support the media in Switzerland as it adjusts to the impacts of the shift to digital which has seen large platforms that create no content suck out much of the advertising revenue that used to support the business of news.
Newspapers, private radio and television stations and online media provide the population with regional and national
information every day, argues the government. They help to shape political opinion and bring social cohesion. Despite their importance, however, local and regional media have come under financial pressure as advertising revenues are increasingly going to large international internet platforms. Many newspapers have disappeared. Private radio and television stations also have far less advertising income. This has an adverse effect on news reporting at a regional level in particular and a negative impact on society, say supporters of the plan.
To help improve the situation the Federal Council and Parliament want to improve the position of local and regional media by helping them financially. The federal government has subsidised the delivery of subscription newspapers for many years. These subsidies will be extended to newspapers with a larger circulation and to early morning deliveries. In addition, online media will be supported, and local radio stations and regional television can receive more financial assistance. Support is provided on condition that the media concerned are aimed primarily at a Swiss audience and deal with a range of political, business and social topics. The measures will be financed by the revenues from the existing radio and television fee and from the federal budget. In the case of newspapers and online media, support is provided for a period of seven years.
However, some don’t support the government plan. They say it will put taxpayers’ money into the pockets of large media companies. In addition, they argue that it is discriminatory because the extra funding will not be available to media organisations that offer information and content free of charge.
Switzerland’s government largely supports the media support plan. 115 members of the National Council, Switzerland’s parliament voted in support of it, 75 against it, with 6 abstentions. The vote proportions were broadly similar in Council of States, Switzerland’s upper house, with 28 in favour, 10 against and 6 abstentions.