The board of directors of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo’s parent company , accepted on June 28 a new strategic plan for swissinfo.ch. The online service will now focus mainly on readers abroad interested in Switzerland as well as the Swiss abroad. swissinfo.ch will offer background information on Swiss politics, the economy, culture and social affairs in ten languages, including Russian from 2013. Editorial processes will be reorganized. The yearly costs for the news mandate abroad will be cut by SFr9 million.
Guaranteeing a long-term mandate
For the past ten years, swissinfo.ch has fulfilled an information mandate for the Swiss government, complementing the work of the online services of the SBC’s radio and television stations. During this period, the framework conditions have changed fundamentally for swissinfo.ch. The availability of news services has increased rapidly and internet usage is focusing more and more on multimedia. To guarantee the long-term viability of the government mandate for international news and information, the board of directors of the SBC decided on June 28, 2011, on the basis of proposal made by the executive board, to adopt a new strategic offer as well as a new organizational structure for swissinfo. The new offer will serve as a negotiating basis for the pending discussions with the federal authorities concerning swissinfo’s mandate for 2013-2016.
swissinfo’s offer will be streamlined. The three national language departments – French, German and Italian – will be reduced and become a single department. A Russian page will also be launched, once approved by the government. In the future, swissinfo.ch will report in English, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. News will remain the main element of the swissinfo.ch offer, as well as vote and election dossiers in French, German and Italian. Besides text, video, photo galleries, audio slideshows and audio podcasts will remain on offer.
Job losses covered mainly by natural attrition
With the reorganization, swissinfo will lose 40 of 126 full-time equivalents. Around one third of these losses will be incurred by the editorial services, with the remainder in the support sector. Around two thirds of the losses will be accounted for by natural attrition, early retirements and transfers to other SBC units. For the remainder, redundancies will be necessary and a social plan will be implemented.
swissinfo will remain in Bern
swissinfo will remain as an SBC unit in Bern. With the reorganization, its budget will be reduced from SFr26 million by a third. The annual savings of around SFr9 million will be shared between the SBC and the federal government.
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Peter Schibli, director
Christophe Giovannini, editor-in-chief