The cabinet has agreed to continue the government's support for swissinfo as well as partnerships with international broadcasters.This content was published on July 4, 2007 - 12:22
The cabinet said it would contribute more than SFr20 million ($16.5 million) for the next five years to swissinfo and to support agreements between the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) and international broadcasters TV5 and 3Sat.
The "performance agreement" announced on Wednesday defines the international activities of the SBC and which of its services will receive financial support from the government.
The government is required to periodically regulate the SBC's international services and to cover at least half of the total costs.
The goal of the services is to provide Switzerland with an international presence to promote understanding of the country and to keep the Swiss living abroad in touch with events in their homeland.
"This announcement is the government's official confirmation that Switzerland wants to have an international voice and that it deems it necessary to explain the workings of the country," said swissinfo director Beat Witschi.
"In this way, clichés about the country can be deconstructed and its image improved."
Witschi said swissinfo's mandate has been newly defined, with the accent placed on providing a multimedia and interactive service in several languages that bridges the cultural divide.
Analysis and background reports on political affairs, economics, society, environment, culture, education and research will have priority. Particular emphasis will be placed on topics such as direct democracy, human rights, Swiss values and traditions.
"After a long debate in parliament about the future role of swissinfo, it's good that a conclusion has finally been reached," Witschi added.
swissinfo is the successor to shortwave broadcaster Swiss Radio International, which ceased operations in 2004.
In the television sector, the cabinet said it would support cooperation agreements between the SBC and TV5 for French-speaking audiences around the world and with 3Sat for German speakers.
"TV5's global coverage makes it an ideal platform for Switzerland," the cabinet statement said.
In addition, the SBC will continue to contribute to Euronews broadcasts and the culture channel, Arte, which broadcasts programming in German and French.
Long period of uncertainty
The planned dismantling of swissinfo in 2005 triggered protests by organisations of the Swiss abroad. The SBC plans also met with opposition in parliament.
In June 2005 the Senate adopted a motion brought by Filippo Lombardi. This called for swissinfo's existing offering to be retained. Later the House of Representatives also accepted the motion.
In the framework of the new radio and television law parliament decided in spring 2006 that at least half of swissinfo's funding should come from the government.
swissinfo grew out of Swiss Radio International, an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) set up in 1935. It had the mandate to present Switzerland to the outside world and to inform Swiss living abroad.
More than 645,000 Swiss currently live abroad, two-thirds of them in Europe. 110,000 are registered to vote, and so can participate in national votes and elections.
swissinfo.org is available in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, and so has the potential to reach 8 out of 10 internet users.
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