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Switzerland/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

Switzerland is a multilingual country. The mandate of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) is to produce and broadcast radio and television programmes in the country's four languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. For this reason, the radio and television studios are located in the different language regions and additional 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.

In accordance with the Radio and Television Act,, the Swiss broadcasting landscape is opening up to private broadcasters while public broadcasting continues to maintain a strong position, primarily for political and cultural reasons. In 2008, the Federal Office of Communications granted 41 broadcasting concessions for local radio stations and 13 broadcasting concessions for regional television stations. These concessions contain service remits that should also guarantee public service on a regional basis. The new Act came into force in 2007 (see also chapter 4.2.6).

The institutionalisation and organisation of radio and television is based on Article 93 of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Act and Ordinance on Radio and Television (RTVA / RTVO), and on many (non-binding) guidelines issued by the Federal Office of Communications (BAKOM). Article 93 specifies that information, education, and entertainment are the main functions of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. It guarantees the independence and autonomy of radio and television as well as gives consideration to Switzerland's cultural communities (see chapter 4.2.9). Radio and television should take account of original Swiss audio-visual and film productions and co-productions with other European countries, in line with European regulations (e.g. European Convention on Transfrontier Television). SRG SSR has a legal right to obtain a license and to collect license fees.

Switzerland is a member of the European Broadcasting Union, which is based in Geneva.

The diversity of the Swiss press reflects the federalist and multilingual structures of Switzerland. However, trends toward a concentration of the press have affected Switzerland in the past few years (according to the Federal Statistical Office; in 2006 there were 84 daily newspapers, in 2000 there were 93; and in 1985 there were 111). For this reason, whether public funds should be allocated to promoting press diversity or whether this would distort the mechanism of the press market has been on the political agenda. Although direct support for press diversity has been rejected in Parliament, indirect support (e.g. reduced shipping costs) is to be expanded.

The relevant laws in the area of mass media are:

  • Federal Act on Radio and Television (RTVA) of June 21, 1991
  • Radio and Television Ordinance of October 6, 1997 (RTVO)

Chapter published: 13-11-2014

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