In the news this weekend: Advertising on public television, getting freight off the road and onto the rails, and a Facebook chat with the Swiss friend of the man behind the Berlin Christmas market attack. Here’s a round-up of some top stories in the Swiss Sunday papers.
Two Swiss newspapers are reporting that the man who attacked the Berlin Christmas market was in close contact with a Swiss woman. Via a Facebook chat, the 29-year-old woman from canton Thurgau told the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche that she and the Tunisian man, named Anis Amri, had chatted online and exchanged photos, plus had video chats. She said that he had wanted to meet her. “It could be that he wanted to get married. That was a topic one time,” she told the newspapers.
The woman converted to Islam in 2015 and her online comments have attracted attention, like when she wrote that she would like to become a martyr. She does not believe that her 24-year-old friend committed the attack in Berlin. On December 19, Amri drove a truck through the Christmas market crowd, killing 12 and injuring 56. Police found a Swiss phone in the truck; authorities are investigating any potential Swiss connections.
Roger de Weck, the CEO of swissinfo.ch’s parent company, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), is against restricting advertisements on the public service broadcaster. Rather than having a no-commercials policy after 8pm, for example, he could imagine setting a cap on advertising revenue.
“We are open to new business models in advertising,” said de Weck in an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung’s Sunday newspaper. “If the SBC’s advertising revenues exceeded [an agreed-upon] threshold, some of the money could flow towards an indirect promotion of media.” De Weck, who will retire soon, says that such a model would be wiser than restricting adverts. In his view, this would mainly benefit foreign channels with Swiss advertising windows. Gilles Marchand will take over for de Weck in October.
Critics find that there are too few freight trains passing through the Gotthard Base Tunnel. This is not in keeping with the constitutional mandate to move transalpine freight traffic from road to rail, called for by the Alpine Initiative passed in 1992. As the SonntagsZeitung reports, the Swiss Federal Railways is not maximising the new tunnel’s capacity for transferring freight to the rails, and thus cutting the number of trucks driving through the Swiss Alps. Through calculations and comments from transport specialists, the newspaper reckons that Swiss Federal Railways could allow more goods to pass through the tunnel by slowing down the passenger trains and allowing more freight trains to pass through. This would add 20 minutes to the journey for passengers, but would still be ten minutes faster than it was pre-tunnel.