Parliament has rejected additional cuts in the budget of the international offer of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), including the multilingual platform swissinfo.ch.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday threw out a proposal by its finance committee to reduce financial contributions by CHF2 million ($1.97 million) for the online services swissinfo.ch, tvsvizzera.it (in Italian) as well as for the television programmes of TV5Monde (in French) and 3sat (in German).
The government currently pays CHF39 million annually to the four channels.
The budget of swissinfo.ch, just under CHF18 million, would have been cut by up to CHF4 million, because any cuts in government subsidies leads to a reduction in funds from SBC.
The House also narrowly dismissed a proposal to cut CHF300,000 in subsidies for the Swiss Review magazine, published by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad.
Swiss presence abroad
During Tuesday’s debate, supporters of the budget cuts, notably from the rightwing Swiss People’s Party and the centre-right Radical Party, argued there was no need for a special international offer as other sources of information were also available online.
However, members of the leftwing Social Democratic Party and the centrist Christian Democrats stressed the importance of an international media presence in general, notably to explain Switzerland’s political system of direct democracy, and swissinfo.ch’s role for the Swiss Abroad community.
Finance Minister Ueli Maurer also warned against budget cuts in SBC’s international offer.
swissinfo.ch has been the subject of several rounds of budget cuts over the past 15 years, including CHF500,000 as part of the programme of government spending cuts for the period 2017-2019.
Adapted from French by Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch