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Ordinance on Radio and Television Culture needs to be strengthened

Ordinance on Radio and Television Culture needs to be strengthened
SRG plays an important role in Swiss cultural creativity. Every year, it invests around 300 million francs in culture and education.
Photo: Marlon Trottmann /
Text by Giorgio Tebaldi
On 8 December, the Federal Council commented on the “200 francs is enough!” initiative. It clearly rejects the proposal. At the same time, it presented a draft for a revised Ordinance on Radio and Television. In it, the Council provides for a gradual reduction in radio and TV fees for households down to CHF 300. For the collective management organisations and their members - the creators and artists - the importance of SRG for the Swiss cultural landscape is paramount.

With the petition for a referendum “200 francs is enough!”, the Swiss electorate is being presented with a proposal to reduce the radio and TV fees for SRG (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation) for the second time in just a few years. This comes after the “No Billag” initiative was clearly rejected by the people with 71.6% of votes against on 4 March 2018.

The Federal Council clearly rejects the initiative. It plans to reduce radio and TV fees in two stages from CHF 335 to CHF 300 by 2029. Companies with a turnover of up to CHF 1.2 million will now also be exempt from the levy; this limit currently stands at CHF 500,000. Interested parties have until 1 February 2024 to comment on the Federal Council’s proposal.

SUISA welcomes the Federal Council’s clear stance against the initiative. The impact on the cultural sector and the cohesion of the Swiss language regions would be devastating. One consequence would be an impoverishment of supply and mass redundancies. Another serious consequence would be that cooperation with the independent audiovisual and cultural sector would have to be massively reduced. The result would be a severe curtailment of cultural activities in Switzerland: For many creators and artists, the most important production partner and the most important platform for being recognised by a broad audience in this country would disappear. In addition, they would suffer a loss of income that would be difficult to counterbalance.

SRG: About 300 million francs for culture and education

Swiss artists depend on being able to maintain a substantial cooperation with SRG. Every year, it invests around CHF 300 million in cultural creation and education in Switzerland, making an essential contribution to the country’s cohesion. Its reporting ensures that Swiss creators, artists and events are recognized across and beyond the regions. For example, SRG produces concert transmissions, cultural, music, literature, art and philosophy programmes, cultural magazines, documentaries and comedy shows for its radio, TV and online channels. The production and distribution of cultural contributions in SRG programmes is one of the most important elements of the public service and connects Switzerland with its language regions.

Within the framework of the “Pacte de l’audiovisuel”, SRG contributes CHF 34 million to the production of around 140 Swiss films and series every year. This is particularly pertinent for the Swiss film industry, as many productions could not be financed via the small local market. Moreover, SRG supports film festivals at which Swiss productions are shown: the Locarno Film Festival, Visions du Réel in Nyon and the Solothurn Film Festival. And with an annual budget of about CHF 100 million, SRG is also one of the largest clients of independent Swiss film production companies.

SRG: Every fourth song on the radio comes from Switzerland

SRG is also of central importance for Swiss music creation. The share of Swiss music on SRG radio stations amounted to 28.4% (Source: in 2022. That is almost three times more than on private stations, which play an average of just 10.3% music from Switzerland. As part of the “Swiss Music Charter”, SRG agrees this share with Swiss music associations on an annual basis. In addition, there are reports on music and artists from Switzerland, special programmes and transmissions of concerts and festivals. SRG is also an important partner of Swiss music festivals in various genres.

SRG offers Swiss creators of literary works an important platform with various television and radio programmes and is also involved in major literary events.

If the initiative were to be accepted, income from copyrights would also fall sharply for many creators and artists. SRG pays copyright and neighbouring rights remuneration of over CHF 50 million to the five Swiss collective management organisations each year. Around 90 percent of this is distributed to the authors, publishers, performers and producers of the works transmitted or broadcast.

The Federal Council writes in its press release of 8 November: “SRG must focus its mandate more strongly on information, education and culture.” This announcement to strengthen the cultural sector is rather significant for the Swiss collective management organisations and the creators and artists they represent. Not only with a view to possible changes to SRG’s mandate, but also to give the task of maintaining culture within SRG’s public service mandate the necessary weight and importance.

With the present consultation draft on the RTVO, the Federal Council is actively seeking a way to address the unease among the population and the business community regarding the level of fees, which has been highlighted by the initiators, and to pave the way for a potential compromise. The collective management organisations welcome this approach since it helps to make the debate more objective: Away from pure price issues, towards questions of content. What content should a publicly financed media company offer the population?

SUISA will comment on the consultation draft together with the other collective management organisations and other cultural associations.

This article appeared in a similar form in Swisscopyright’s session letter for December 2023.

1 response to “Ordinance on Radio and Television Culture needs to be strengthened

  1. BIOLLAY Roland says:

    OK, mais alors que la SSR (Suisse romande) nous fasse le plaisir d’offrir autre chose comme programme divertissant que ce qu’elle nous présente depuis quelques temps, n’en déplaise à M. Marchand … Il n’y a bientôt que des séries de troisième zone, de guerre, d’attentat, du mal de la société, etc…
    Surtout plus de Variété, de spectacles, etc…

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