The promotion of filmmaking and film culture is a primary task of the Confederation (Art. 71 of the Federal Constitution). The primary legal bases of federal film funding are:
- Film Act of 14 December 2001 (FiA) and Film Ordinance (FiO) of 3 July 2002.
- Ordinance of the FDHA on Film Funding (FiFV) of 21 April 2016.
- Ordinance of the FDHA on the Promotion of the International Presence of Swiss Filmmaking and MEDIA Replacement Measures (IPFiV) of 21 April 2016.
- Ordinance on the Swiss Film Award of the of 30th September 2004
Switzerland has also concluded co-production agreements with various countries and signed the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production.
The first Swiss Federal Act on Film came into force on 1 January 1963. The total revision of the Film Act 2002 placed film promotion on a modern legal basis. The Film Ordinance was elaborated by the Federal Office of Culture (FOC) together with the Federal Film Commission and the Swiss film industry.
The first Culture Dispatch, as the concrete implementation of the Culture Promotion Act, determined the scope and nature of film promotion for the period 2012-2015. Film promotion includes financial support for projects, as well as the funding of production, marketing, and distribution endeavours. The term film culture refers to various measures such as support granted to film festivals, the publishing of film journals, or programmes aimed specifically at children and young people. In the form of financial contributions to cinemas, distribution, and dissemination, the federal government aims to promote the diversity and quality of the films on offer in Switzerland. Further, another focal area is co-production and international cooperation by means of an active co-production policy.
The revision of the Film Act as part of the Cultural Despatch 2021-2024 provides for a direct investment obligation for foreign streaming services such as Netflix and foreign TV stations with Swiss advertising windows (4 per cent of their revenues in Switzerland) in independent Swiss filmmaking ((currently discussed)).
In 1997, “succès cinéma”, a reward system for film production was introduced to provide additional funds to those producers (their team, production company, distributors, and the Cinema) whose films attracted the greatest number of viewers. For 2007, a minimum admission requirement for profit-based film promotion was additionally introduced (CHF 10 000 for feature films and CHF 5 000 for documentary films).
A major role is played by the Federal Film Commission, whose function is to give expert advice regarding federal regulations.
The federal government can support “domestic” as well as international co-productions with Swiss participation and film culture through financial contributions, quality awards, and prizes (see also chapter 8.1.4).
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.
The institutionalisation and organisation of radio and television are 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. Radio and television should take account of original Swiss audiovisual 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 relevant laws in the area of mass media are:
- Federal Act on Radio and Television (RTVA) of 21st June 1991
- Radio and Television Ordinance of 6th October 1997 (RTVO)