European Federation of Journalists

Switzerland: Clear votum for public service media

For the two EFJ member organisations in Switzerland,  impressum and syndicom the very clear no to “No Billag” confirms that the Swiss population wants to preserve quality media. 71% voted against #Nobillag in yesterday’s referendum. The “No Billag” initiative – a reference to the Billag firm that collects the media licensing fee – divided Switzerland along political and generational lines.

The majority of the population does not want to set aside public service media and is aware that media pluralism is in danger, if one can only rely on private and commercial media, says syndicom.

The public referendum against «No Billag» has confirmed the importance of a pluralist and strong Swiss media landscape for Swiss citizens. They are ready to pay its contribution for quality media, says impressum. With this NO, democracy wins and with it the guarantee for free public opinion. This No is also a victory for the regions who can  continue to rely on local and regional media.

Both organisations agree that an economic safeguarding of independent information channels and quality of media is urgent.  The vote of 4 March – 71% against the #NOBillag = is a partial victory for public service media and media pluralism.

In Switzerland, as in many other European countries, publishers and media owners threaten media pluralism by merging newsrooms and reducing drastically staff.  In addition,  in an unprecedented way they put in danger the exchange of information among borders by reducing the staff of the Swiss news agency SDA.

The EFJ hopes that this no to «No Billag» is a sign for politicians to support independent media in Switzerland and to public service media to invest in quality and independence. The EFJ Broadcasting Expert Group and many EFJ affiliates had sent messages of solidarity to our Swisss colleagues.