Liechtenstein is considered, together with Switzerland, to be the European country with the most highly developed direct-democratic rights. The media perform their function of articulating contemporary issues in Liechtenstein society; that is, they afford all relevant groups the opportunity to express their views. To a large extent, press texts retain the undistorted discussion and communication styles of the political, economic and cultural actors involved and reflect them more authentically than is the case with the construed “reality” produced by media systems operating in their own personal interests.
Media concentration is high in Liechtenstein: with two well-established newspapers, each oriented to one of the two major political parties, an independent, private monthly magazine, a cultural magazine, a radio station under public law (since 2004) and a private TV station. The Media Act of October 2005 (see 4.2.5) emphasises the duty of commitment to free, individual shaping of opinion. No laws exist to prohibit media concentration.
The Media Promotion Act of September 2006 establishes that the media must be privately funded. In order to preserve a diversity of opinion, the state supports the media directly not exceeding 30% of labour costs or indirectly, for example, through education and continuing education of media employees. Radio license fees have been eliminated in Liechtenstein, and the public-law radio station is financed extensively by the state. According to the October 2003 Liechtenstein Radio Act, information on art, culture and science are to be included in the broadcasting programme. Critics call for a stronger cultural commitment from the radio and daily press.
State subsidies are subject to EU state aid law. Liechtenstein must also notify these to the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA). The ESA was informed of the Media Promotion Act in August 2006 and found it to be compatible with the EEA Agreement by decision 267/06/COL. This qualification was confirmed by the ESA in December 2017 for a further six years.
In 2018, the Liechtenstein government commissioned the Liechtenstein Institute and the Department of Communication and Media Research of the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) to review funding for the media. It concludes that the support of private media in Liechtenstein is important for democracy in order to maintain a pluralistic media landscape and ensure the formation of political opinion.
Comments are closed.