The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo.ch’s parent company, announced on Tuesday the elimination of 250 jobs.
In a statementexternal link, the company, which also includes public radio and television in the four national languages, said SBC had to save CHF40 million ($41 million) a year from 2016. Personnel cuts would be focused on administration, IT and production.
The cuts have to be made for two reasons: a Federal Court ruling earlier this year that Swiss households should not have to pay value added tax on radio and television licence fees - the equivalent of CHF35 million that the SBC will have to do without. Secondly, a reform of the radio and television law approved by voters in June includes an increase in the percentage of the fee that goes to private broadcasters from 4 to 6%.
The slashes would include 102 full-time positions at German-language broadcaster SRF and its production branch tpc (technology and production center Switzerland), as well as 74 jobs at French-language broadcaster RTS, 49 RSI jobs in the Italian-speaking region of the country and 20 upper management positions.
Smaller operations, including swissinfo.ch, which publishes news online in ten languages, and RTR, the Romansh-language broadcaster, will contribute to savings by decreasing current operating expenses. swissinfo.ch went through a cost-cutting exercise in 2011. Its annual budget was reduced from CHF26 million to CHF17 million and the number of full-time-equivalent positions cut from 126 to 86. Around one third of these losses were incurred by the editorial services, with the remainder in the support sector.
SBC’s management said it planned to consult with employees. Switzerland’s largest journalists’ union, the Swiss Mass Media Syndicate, confirmed that it planned to negotiate a social plan in the coming days, in order to save as many jobs as possible. The Swiss journalists’ association Impressum said it was “shocked” by the announcement.
In June, just over 50% of voters chose to change the radio and television licencing structure. The new fee adopted will no longer be tied to the ownership of a TV or other device receiving television or radio programming – meaning that all residents will now pay, including foreigners with holiday homes in Switzerland.
Also, the initial annual rate, which until now was set at CHF451, will drop to CHF400.
Until now, Billag AG, a subsidiary to Swiss telecom giant Swisscom, collected approximately CHF1.3 billion annually from four million households and businesses around the country.
swissinfo.ch and agencies