The Swiss government has presented proposals aimed at promoting public service online media as part of a larger reform of the broadcasting law.
Online media play an increasingly important role in a digitalised world, beside traditional radio and television or print sources, Communications Minister Doris Leuthard told a news conference on Thursday.
Under the proposals, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), the parent company of swissinfo.ch, would continue to be a key provider of news, culture, education, sports and entertainment in all four national languages – German, French, Italian and Romansh.
It would continue to be funded mainly by a public licence fee.
The government also suggests creating an independent panel of experts to advise on electronic media, replacing the current system of joint responsibility between the national government and federal bodies.
Leuthard said the new panel was in response to criticism of the SBC’s perceived official status.
The content created by swissinfo.ch will be reviewed in light of possible closer cooperation with other public providers.
The government also wants to boost cooperation between the public broadcaster and private media, according to the proposals.
Political parties, the 26 cantons, as well as organisations and institutions have until mid-October to voice their opinions before the government prepares a bill to present to parliament.
In a first reaction, the main political parties were divided, while both private media outlets and trade unions expressed concerns about certain aspects of the draft bill.
Over the past three years, voters had the final say on two separate proposals concerning the funding system of the SBC and the broadcasting licence fee.
The SBC, with its more than 20 radio and television channels as well as online offers, has pledged to cut CHF100 million ($100.4 million) from its budget from next year. Its annual turnover is about CHF1.6 billion.