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Public broadcaster envisages cuts

Director-general Walpen paints a bleak picture of SBC's finances Keystone

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has announced plans to cut spending and axe an unspecified number of jobs from 2007.

This content was published on June 28, 2005 - 15:34

The country’s public broadcaster said it was facing a SFr160 million ($125 million) shortfall in its budget within four years.

SBC’s director-general Armin Walpen said the company had to save about SFr80 million from 2007 in an effort to make up for lower income and planned investments.

The cuts are to be divided between the national projects, including broadcasts of major sports events, and the regional units.

Walpen said he hoped the average television viewer or radio listener would not notice much of the planned first package of cuts.

However, he said an unspecified number of jobs would be axed, partly through natural wastage.

Addressing a news conference in Bern on Tuesday, Walpen also warned that a second package of spending cuts and an increase in public licence fees would have to be considered.

swissinfo

He added that SBC would wait for a decision by parliament later this year on amending the radio and television law, including the funding scheme for SBC’s nine-language internet portal, swissinfo.

In March, the board of SBC announced it was to cut up to 80 jobs at swissinfo prompting a wave of opposition.

The new legislation foresees that private radio and television stations will benefit from an increased amount of public licence fees.

Walpen also blamed increasing costs for production and new technologies, as well as higher royalties for the bleak financial outlook.

The SBC runs radio and television stations in Switzerland’s four national languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) as well as the nine-language internet portal, swissinfo.

The media union, SSM, has sharply criticised SBC’s plans as overambitious. It acknowledged that the public broadcaster was facing a drop in revenue under the legislation.

But the union said it was opposing any plans to cut jobs when several factors in SBC’s budget are not clear.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

SBC revenue in 2004 was SFr1.5 billion ($1.2 billion).
71% of this revenue came from licence fees.
23% came from sponsoring and advertising.
The last 6% came from the sale of radio and television programmes to other broadcasters.

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