People in Switzerland support direct funding for news agencies
Switzerland’s media industry has struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic and it seems that people across the country are wanting to help. Local councils (Gemeinde) have proposed setting aside more funding to invest into the industry - an issue that may come to a referendum in 2022.
Swiss news outlets are not as popular as they once were
Though Switzerland has many great news agencies, Swiss news outlets have found themselves being overshadowed recently by international online media. Many people rely on social media as a news source, alongside global news provided by international companies that are not based in Switzerland.
In order to protect the media landscape, Simonetta Sommaruga, the federal minister in charge of communications, has proposed a new subsidy by the government for more media sources. The state has now pledged to give media outlets 120 million Swiss francs annually, for the next seven years.
The previous subsidy on offer was just 30 million Swiss francs and benefited only government-sponsored media like Swiss Radio and Television. The new proposals will also finance content creation using direct payments to private online media, at a cost of around 30 million Swiss francs.
Opposition in Switzerland are concerned about media bias
The new subsidy does not come without opposition. Politicians and entrepreneurs have expressed concern that the subsidy will simply accelerate the consolidation of Switzerland’s media, since they feel it will only be given to a select few of the already-dominant news outlets.
Other opposition comes in the form of anti-mask, anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination protestors, who are behind the “Friends of the Constitution” group. The group feels that the subsidy threatens freedom of speech in the country, and that it may encourage the creation of more “state media”. Friends of the Constitution, alongside other opponents, have launched a referendum on the issue. A vote will most likely take place in February 2022.