Switzerland’s government plans to support reliable news on local and regional broadcasters through financial help to the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.
Up to CHF2 million ($2 million) from public licence fees may be available to the agency on certain conditions, following changes to the Radio and Television Ordinance (RTVO) approved by the government on Wednesday.
Local and regional broadcasters that receive support from licence fee splitting “should continue to be able to rely on a broad range of information for their reporting activities and should be able to obtain this at a reasonable price”, says the Federal Councilexternal link.
There have been concerns over the restructuring of SDA-ATS, where staff went on strike earlier this year over job cuts.
The government also renewed the concession of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), of which swissinfo.ch is part, for 2019-22.
That concession has been coupled with new requirements following a wide public debate on the so-called “No Billag” initiative to scrap the licence fee, which was rejected on March 4 this year.
The SBC is now required to ensure that half of public funds from the licence fee go to news. Programmes for young people are to be strengthened.
The government also set new rules for entertainment programmes, saying that the SBC must distinguish itself clearly from private broadcasters by taking more risks in terms of creativity and innovation and broadcasting more original content.
Under the RTVO changes, the national broadcaster is also required to boost its measures to help the hard of hearing, raising to at least two-thirds the number of subtitled programmes.