Concern about the cohesion of multi-cultural Switzerland was the main reason for voters rejecting a proposal to do away with the mandatory public broadcasting licence fees last month.
The Votoexternal link study, which was published on Thursday, also found the rejection rate was the highest among 18-29-year old voters, despite speculation in the run-up to the March 4 ballot, that the “Netflix”-generation had no interest in a strong Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).
Nearly 72% of voters rejected the initiative by the youth wings of two major political parties on the right of the political spectrum.
About 60% of all poll respondents said licence fees were crucial for the survival of the SBC, which operates a broad range of television, radio and online channels, including swissinfo.ch.
“The vote was a clear endorsement for a public service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, for a comprehensive offer in all language regions, strengthening the country’s cohesion and direct democracy,” says Anke Tresch of the Fors research institute at Lausanne University.
However, the pollster also found that 58% of respondents, particularly in the majority German-speaking part of the country, want the SBC to reduce spending and to downsize.
Debate to continue
It shows that the debate over the position of the SBC is not over, despite the clear vote result, according to Tresch.
The main reasons for backing the initiative were criticism of the programme offers and the amount of the licence fee – currently every household and company must pay an annual fee of CHF451.1 ($482) and CHF597.50 respectively to use the SBC’s offer.
The Voto studies are based on 1,531 telephone interviews with Swiss citizens living in all four language regions of the country. The Swiss expatriate community is not included in the polls.
Official, but incomplete results show that in most cantons, the proportion of 'no' votes from the Swiss Abroad was just under 78%.
Funded by the Federal Chancellery, Voto studies on nationwide ballots are carried out jointly by the Fors instituteexternal link of Lausanne University, the Centre for Democracy Studiesexternal link in Aarau and the Link market research instituteexternal link.