Referendum to slash the Swiss TV licence fee submitted for approval

Referendum to slash the Swiss TV licence fee submitted for approval

A new referendum has been submitted that would reduce the cost of a Swiss TV licence to 200 Swiss francs a year. The organisers believe that the recent referendum that rejected direct funding of the media is an indication that people in Switzerland don’t want to pay as much for public broadcasting.

TV licence in Switzerland no longer reflects how people view media

The committee, which is dominated by the Swiss People’s Party, has launched a popular initiative to reduce the fee for a TV and radio licence. The plan would see the annual fee reduced from 335 Swiss francs to 200 francs a year per household. Under the new plan, companies would no longer have to pay the fee. Activists have been buoyed by the result of the latest referendums, which saw the rejection of a plan to directly fund private media.

“200 francs is enough!” - the official name of the referendum - was launched in Bern on Tuesday, with National Councillor Thomas Matter saying that the current system where all families and households are charged a flat fee, regardless of whether they watch or listen to Swiss public programming, no longer reflects “the reality of media consumption in our country.” In order to make the system fairer for those who do not use Swiss services, they propose a cut to the licence fee.

Swiss public broadcaster takes this "new attack" into account

In response, the public broadcaster, SRG SSR, said that it had taken this “new attack” into account and would campaign against it. Jean-Michel Cina, Chairman of the SRG SSR Board of Directors, asserted that the network makes an important contribution to Swiss culture by playing an integral role in the social cohesion between the different language groups of Switzerland.

“The SRG SSR could no longer be financed with such a greatly reduced budget in its current, decentralized structure,” said Cina, who warned that regional reporting would suffer under the new plan. National Councillor Jon Pult called it a “full-frontal attack on our public media service” and argued that in a world of advertiser-driven journalism, a public broadcaster was essential.

The committee has now submitted the referendum for scrutiny and will begin gathering signatures once the initiative is approved. SRG SSR will take heart in the fact that a similar referendum has been tried before, with a vote to abolish the licence fee being defeated by 70 percent of voters in 2018. 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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