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Funding programmes Initiative aims to scrap public broadcaster fees

The funding of public broadcasting has become a political hot potato

(Keystone)

Opponents of the license fee for public television and radio have handed in the 100,000 signatures required to force a nationwide vote on scrapping the funding system. Once the signatures are validated, the proposal could be expected to go the public vote within four years.

The challenge to the current funding system for public broadcasting follows another controversial and close ballot in June that widened the burden of paying the license fee to all households, even businesses, regardless of whether they have a television or radio.

The method of collecting the license fee was changed in response to broadcasts being available on new platforms, such as tablets and smart phones. As a result of increasing the number of households that will be required to pay, the fee will be reduced from CHF451 to CHF400, but it could be raised again in future.

The latest initiative, handed in at Bern with 104,053 signatures on Friday, wants to ban the state from funding television or radio stations. The initiative’s backers want the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) to finance itself in future.

SBC, the parent company of the multimedia platform swissinfo.ch, said the initiative would spell the end of its existenceexternal link. “Public television and radio would be switched off,” it said in a statement.

A media commission, set up by cabinet, submitted a report on Friday recommending that the license fee system should continue to finance the public broadcaster. However, the report also called on the SBC to increase transparency on exactly how its income is spent on making programmes.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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