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Press freedom Swiss press faces economic reality

Protesters in the Swiss city of Lausanne criticising the closure of the Hebdo magazine in February

(Keystone)

Switzerland remains among the world’s top ten countries for press freedom despite growing economic pressure, according to the non-governmental organisation Reporters Without Borders.

The World Press Freedom Index 2017external link shows Switzerland in seventh position behind four Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark – as well as the Netherlands and Costa Rica.

Switzerland’s stable press freedom is in contrast to the global situation which has worsened in nearly two-thirds of the 180 countries in the index, the NGO said.

However, the Paris-based organisation pointed to a significant number of job losses at several Swiss newspapers in the past year.

“The media are undergoing a period of turmoil with one outlet after another disappearing or being restructured,” Reporters Without Borders said.

It also referred to the public Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) – swissinfo.ch’s parent company – which is under pressure from parliament.

The United States came 43rd in the global ranking. The authors of the report pointed to President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks on journalists and attempts to block certain media outlets from White House access.

press freedom

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Protection

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the Swiss government’s pledge to support a mandate for a special United Nations representative for the protection of journalists worldwide.

However, it also noted an increasing number of sponsored content and advertorials in Swiss newspapers and criticised plans to curtail the principle of public access to official records.

“There is no democracy without press freedom,” said Gérard Tschopp, president of the Swiss chapter of Reporters Without Borders, in Bern on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, two major weeklies, the French-language Hebdo magazine and the German-language Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper closed down.

For its part, the SBC risks losing its income from licence fees if an initiative by the youth chapters of centre-right and rightwing political parties wins a majority in a nationwide vote. The initiative is still pending in parliament before voters will have the final say.

swissinfo.ch with agencies/urs

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