Media licence fee reform challenged to vote

More than twice as many signatures as required were handed in to force a nationwide vote on the amended radio and TV law Keystone

Voters are likely to have the final say on a decision by parliament to make every household and business pay a licence fee, whether they use public radio and television services or not.

This content was published on January 12, 2015 - 11:53 and agencies

The association of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on Monday handed in the necessary signatures to the Federal Chancellery in the capital Bern.

The pressure group says it collected more than 100,000 signatures from citizens - twice as many as required - calling for a nationwide vote on the legal amendment. A date still has to be set by the government.

The reform foresees that the levy will have to be paid by every household and by businesses regardless of whether they are using the service by the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC),’s parent company.

Burden for business

Parliament, which approved the law last September, estimates the reform will result in an additional CHF1.3 million ($1.28 million) in annual revenue, including CHF500,000 from businesses.

However, the SMEs argue the levy will increase steadily over the years, becoming a financial burden for businesses.

The bulk of the licence fee revenue is to go towards the SBC, while private stations are to receive a cut of up to 6% annually.

Currently, private households using SBC media pay CHF462 in annual licence fees. The contribution is set to be reduced to CHF400 if the reform is passed in the nationwide vote.

Efforts are also underway to collect the required number of signatures for two separate proposals to scrap the licence fee system altogether.

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