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Switzerland/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

The mandate of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) is to produce and broadcast in Switzerland as a multilingual and multicultural country radio and television programmes in the country's four languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. For this reason, radio and television studios are located in the different language regions (see chapter 5.3.2) and extra funds are made available to enable the French and Italian-language regions to produce as many programmes in their respective languages as in the German-speaking region of Switzerland. The dual-channel sound system also enables the bulk of broadcasted programming to be viewed in English. In the larger areas, especially in the German-speaking urban agglomerations, English is actually regarded as an important foreign language.

The new Radio and Television Act came into force in 2007. Its provisions for implementation are to ensure continued strong public service through the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR). At the same time, various rules and regulations for private programme providers are to be eased. Support for local-regional private providers is also to be expanded using service charge funds.

Thus, the Swiss broadcasting landscape is opening up to private broadcasters while public broadcasting (SRG SSR) continues to maintain a strong position, primarily for political and cultural reasons.

The diversity of the Swiss press reflects Switzerland's federalist and multilingual structures. However, trends toward a concentration of the press have affected Switzerland in the past few years (according to the Federal Statistical Office, in 2010, 193 newspapers were published at least once a week (not including free newspapers etc.); in 2000 there were 232; and in 1985 there were 288). The concentration of the press has been quantitatively mitigated by the rise of free newspapers. Their number jumped from 3 in 2000 to 9 in 2006. For the first time, more people in Switzerland accessed information via the Internet rather than in newspapers from 2008. Whether public funds should be allocated to promoting press diversity or whether this would distort the mechanisms of the press market is hence on the political agenda.

Chapter published: 12-11-2014

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