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Documentary criticised

TV ombudsman: no notable women in Swiss history

By and agencies

A media ombudsman has drawn a line under Swiss history, stating women have only played a “secondary role”. The landmark ruling said that a documentary series on significant Swiss in history was not discriminatory for only featuring men.  

The Independent Complaints Authority for Radio and Television said that the series had portrayed historical figures who shaped entire eras. They included figures from the beginning of Swiss history such as Werner Stauffacher, one of the 13th century oath takers at the Rütli meadow, Switzerland’s historical birthplace, or Niklaus von Flüe, hermit and patron saint of Switzerland.

Guillaume Henri Dufour, the general who led the federal army to victory in the civil war, and Alfred Escher, a politician, businessman and railway pioneer who in the 19th century spearheaded the foundation of the Federal Institute of Technology, Credit Suisse, Swiss Life and the Gotthard railway, also played a prominent role in the programme.

But a viewer,  supported  by at least 20 more people, had complained that women were marginalised by the documentary and that the television programme conveyed an antiquated understanding of Swiss history.

The complaints authority, headed by Roger Blum, a professor for communication and media sciences, did not share their view.

The authority said that the four-part documentary "The Swiss" did not violate diversity requirements or the prohibition of discrimination. “There were objective reasons for the fact that women played a secondary role in it,” it said.

Criticism that the documentary glorified and belittled violence was also rejected on the grounds that the depiction of violence was not an end  in itself.

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