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Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire

Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire
The Association ‘Musikschaffende Schweiz’ presented a “SwissMusicOnAir Award” for the first time in 2017. The prize was awarded to the licensed private radio broadcaster with the highest percentage of Swiss (pop) music in its programme: the subsidised Berne-based local radio Radio BeO. (Photo: Radio BeO)
Photo: Radio BeO
Text by Andreas Wegelin and Manu Leuenberger
Subsidised radio and TV broadcasters in Switzerland and Liechtenstein tend to create more broadcasting space for the music of SUISA members than privately financed channels. Moreover, the majority of the broadcasters supported by the Swiss Federation play more diverse music titles than their counterparts which are focussed on advertising revenue. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media.

On average, subsidised Swiss radio channels broadcast a higher percentage of music by SUISA members than private radio channels without any public sector funding. In the case of broadcasters which are subsidised by the Swiss Federation, the number of different music titles in the programme is also usually much higher than in the case of their mainly ad-funded counterparts.

A (co-)funding by the Swiss Federation thus contributes to Swiss music creation and diversity taking place in the broadcast programmes. This conclusion isn’t just plucked out of thin air, as the data included in music use reports reflect, which are available to the two collective management organisations SUISA and Swissperform.

If a company in Switzerland wishes to broadcast radio and/or TV programmes or feed them into cable networks, it requires a licensing agreement with SUISA. Under this agreement, the broadcasters are required to provide exact details relating to the programme they transmit.

Broadcast percentages for music by SUISA members

The information provided on the broadcast music must contain the title of the musical work, the name of the composer(s) and artist(s) as well as the broadcast duration, among others. Such detailed information enables SUISA to carry out a correct distribution of the collected licence fees: The collections will be paid out to those authors and publishers whose works have been transmitted based on the information provided in the broadcast reports for the programmes.

Apart from that, the entirety of the broadcast reports reveals an overview of the entire music programme of a channel. In particular, SUISA is in a position to carry out the analysis of the played music of its own members on a well-founded basis. As soon as at least one of the authors is a SUISA member, the musical piece is considered to be a SUISA work for analytical purposes. A music title whose composers and lyricists are exclusively non-SUISA members are therefore considered to be part of ‘other’ repertoire, irrespective of the artist(s) in the course of establishing the music percentages.

Broadcast percentages SUISA works in 2016 in %
Figures rounded off; source: SUISA. (Graphics: Crafft)

A glance on the calculated broadcast percentages from the year 2016 reveals a clear trend: Subsidised radios create more space for the music of SUISA members than privately funded stations. Please note: Not only the SRG programmes play an increasing portion of SUISA repertoire, but also the local channels such as Radio BeO, Kanal K or Radio Stadtfilter. The latter also receive a share of the radio/TV reception fees. The programme mandate therefore shows its effect in this context.

Programme mandates for the national (SRG) and regional (local broadcasters) public service differ in their respective detail. Both of them are, however, subject to basic provision of Art. 93 of the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation: “Radio and television shall contribute to education and cultural development, to the free shaping of opinion and to entertainment. They shall take account of the particularities of the country and the needs of the Cantons. They shall present events accurately and allow a diversity of opinions to be expressed appropriately.”

Diversity in the music programmes of the Swiss radio channels

The cultural mandate of SRG includes cultural reporting, education in the cultural sector as well as cultural promotion. In the course of this service mandate, SRG has agreed guidelines for the promotion of Swiss music creation in the radio programmes in the Swiss Music Charter together with the associations and institutions of the Swiss music sector. An analysis of radio broadcasts dating back to 2015, based on an evaluation by Swissperform, shows the positive impact of the public service mandate on the programme diversity:

Percentage of Swiss music and programming diversity in Swiss radio channels (2015 Analysis)
SRG broadcasters Percentage of Swiss music across all musical programming Number of different music titles Private broadcasters Percentage of Swiss music across all musical programming Number of different music titles
SRF MW 40.31 28,978 Radio 24 12.16 2,320
Swiss Classic 37.38 4,007 Argovia 10.25 2,669
Swiss Jazz 21.07 10,645 Sunshine 11.75 1,746
Virus 57.60 8,206 Central 16.32 6,885
Swiss Pop 36.78 4,929 Zürisee 10.45 4,319
SRF 3 21.25 13,702 Pilatus 11.32 2,389
SRF 2 8.22 16,826 Energy Zürich 1,670
SRF 1 16.95 12,189
Rete Uno 7.45 8,600
Rete Due 8.99 18,335
Rete Tre 14.73 14,209
RTR 37.23 18,176
RTS 1 6.25 12,728
RTS 2 14.28 27,075
RTS 3 20.89 19,220
Option Musique 12.81 6,881
Total 224,706 41,753
Average 22.64 14,044 12.04 3,143
Source: Swissperform

Based on this analysis, nearly every fourth played music title on SRG channels included Swiss music creators (percentage of CH music: 23%). The average percentage of broadcast Swiss music within ad-funded private channels amounted to a mere 12%.

A comparison of the number of various music titles proves another significant difference within the evaluated programmes: The audience of the SRG channels was able to listen to an average of 14,044 different recordings throughout the year. In the programmes of the private radio channels, the average across 12 months amounted to 3,143 recordings, a significantly lower number of different music titles. To put it bluntly: Private channels had a rotation of 9 different songs per day.

In the interest of Swiss music NO to No Billag

The public initiative, marketed under the deceptive title “No Billag” aims at a complete abolition of radio and TV reception fees. The initiators of this campaign have not set their targets on the collection body Billag. Instead, they intend to establish in the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation that the Swiss Federation shall not subsidise any radio and TV stations. At the same time, if the initiative were to be successful, the previously mentioned basic provision according to which radio and TV must contribute to a cultural development and to take the national particularities of a country into account, would be deleted from the Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation without replacement.

In a purely commercially oriented radio and TV landscape, the broadcasters would inevitably focus on their advertising revenues. The current facts on broadcast percentages of Swiss Music and the number of different music titles convey an impression which impact such a finance-driven orientation would have on the programme contents. In the interest of our local music creation and the cultural diversity, we therefore have to categorically reject an abolition of the solidarity-based fees for public service media.

Further information:
Complete evaluations of the broadcast percentages of SUISA works, both in the radio transmissions of SRG as well as in the broadcasts of private radios in 2016 are published here:

NO to No Billag – Campaign against the public initiative

A petition to gather signatures is currently launched among Swiss creators and artists for an appeal with which they take a joint position against the No Billag initiative and for a culturally diverse Switzerland. The campaign is coordinated by the Schweizerische Interpretengenossenschaft (Swiss Artists’ Cooperative) SIG and Swissperform and is supported by numerous representatives from cultural sectors such as SUISA, music creators, the Musikrat (Music Council) and many more. In January 2018, creators and artists want to go public with their joint campaign.

The initiative has, however, not just seen resistance from within cultural circles. There are campaigns by various committees and institutions that are engaged in a NO to No Billag / NON à No Billag on 04 March 2018:

Nein zu No Billag, Initiative by the Unikom radios and others, interest group «NEIN zu No-Billag» (NO to No Billag)
Sendeschluss? Nein!, Association «Nein zum Sendeschluss» (No to transmission shutdown)
Nein zum Anschlag auf unsere Demokratie, Operation Libero
NON à No Billag, Association contre la disparition des radios et TV
Medien für alle – Médias pour tous – Media per tutti, Verein Medien für alle – médias pour tous – media per tutti
Amici della RSI, Associazione Amici della RSI
Salviamo la RSI, Pagina indipendente per la difesa del pluralismo svizzero dei media
No Billag No Svizzera, Comitato No Billag No Svizzera

3 responses to “Subsidised broadcasters offer more variety and more SUISA repertoire

  1. Guldenfels says:

    No Billag, no cultur ?
    Dieser Slogan ist einfach nur Falsch !
    Entstehen doch genau in der Subcultur, weit weg von Subventionen, die Kreativen Würfe dieser Welt.
    Ausserdem gab es schon vor der Billag-Zwangsgebühren Kulturen….

    1. Manu Leuenberger says:

      Bei der Genossenschaft SUISA sind über 36 000 Komponisten, Textautoren und Verleger aus allen musikalischen Sparten angemeldet. Darunter befinden sich auch zahlreiche Musikschaffende, die aus dem Independent-Bereich stammen oder in musikalischen Nischenmärkten tätig sind. Gerade diese Musikschaffenden haben vor allem auf den subventionierten Sendern eine Chance, verbreitet zu werden. (Mit-)Finanzierung aus öffentlicher Hand hat nachweislich einen günstigen Effekt darauf, dass lokale Musik oder Nischenmusik gesendet wird. Dies zeigen die im Artikel geschilderten Zahlen der Sendeanteile und der Anzahl der unterschiedlichen Musiktitel auf. Man denke an Sender wie Kanal K, Radio Lora oder auch die Plattform mx3, die ohne Beihilfe aus den Gebühren nicht existieren können.

      Manu Leuenberger / SUISA Kommunikation

  2. Michel says:

    Seit mindestens 8 Jahren habe ich weder einen Fernseher noch ein Radio eingeschaltet. Ich beziehe mein Unterhaltungsprogramm und die Musik von anderen Diensten, bei denen ich selbst wählen kann, was ich sehen oder hören möchte. Und DAFÜR bezahle ich auch.

    Wenn jemand an der tollen “Vielfalt” der subventionierten Sendern hängt, warum soll ICH das bezahlen? Bezahl doch selbst! So wie ich es auch für meine Interessen tue.

    Simples Verursacherprinzip.

    Die Argumente der “Nein zu No-Billag” sind einfach nur lachhaft.

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