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Swiss public broadcaster to tighten belt amid falling revenues

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The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has accelerated a trend of reduced advertising revenue. Keystone / Obs/srg Deutschschweiz/danielle

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) says further job cuts are inevitable as advertising and license fee revenues continue to fall. The public broadcaster has also fleshed out future strategy details to meet evolving media consumption demands.

SBC, which is’s parent company, must save CHF50 million ($54 million) by 2024, said Director-General Gilles Marchand on Tuesday. This comes on top of an efficiency programme launched in 2018 that saved CHF100 million.

In the last three years, advertising revenues have decreased by CHF95 million, a deficit which is forecast to increase to CHF140 million in the coming years. This is partly due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The lockdown has accelerated the negative trend significantly,” said Marchand.

License fee income fell by CHF50 million last year. In April, parliament agreed to increase SBC funding by CHF50 million to CHF1.25 billion per year. But Marchand said this would not be enough to cover future lost revenues.

As a result, some 250 full-time posts out of a total 5,500 positions will have to be cut over the next four years. Some cuts may involve early retirements or employees moving on, but redundancies cannot be ruled out.

Marchand also outlined strategic changes to SBC’s output given that 20% of the Swiss population does not access media through traditional radio and television channels. Online content will be further developed.

In addition, SBC plans to launch its “Play Suisse” streaming platform featuring Swiss films, in-house series and documentaries. The German-speaking unit SRF is being transformed by a “complex, courageous and important project” called “SRF 2024”, which aims to “put the needs of our users at the centre of the content we offer,” Marchand said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR