swissinfo steps closer to a secure future

The French department is one of nine language services at swissinfo

The House of Representatives has taken a key step towards securing the future of swissinfo, voting in favour of maintaining government subsidies.

This content was published on September 22, 2005 - 15:56

As part of a debate on Thursday on reforms to Switzerland's radio and television law, the House said the government should reinstate financing for the internet service.

Parliamentarians voted 97-63 in favour of the motion, reinstating the traditional financing model which divides the cost evenly between the government and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).

The vote overturns a previous decision by parliament which called for an end to federal funding as of 2007 as part of moves to reduce the federal deficit.

"I'm pleased with the outcome," SBC Director-General Armin Walpen told swissinfo.

"If the Senate follows suit [later this year] then it will affect the decision we took in March," he added. "swissinfo will remain a multilingual service and we will not have to go ahead with the proposed job cuts as originally planned."

Faced with a funding shortfall, the SBC announced earlier this year that it had no choice but to reduce swissinfo's multilingual service from nine languages to one – English.

Swiss abroad

Chiara Simoneschi-Cortesi, a representative of the Christian Democratic Party, spoke during the debate of the importance of swissinfo for the more than 600,000 Swiss living abroad.

She said swissinfo was essential for "maintaining links to the Swiss abroad and their children".

Simoneschi-Cortesi reminded parliament that the Swiss abroad not only had the right to vote but also to be "well informed".

A spokesman for the radio and television parliamentary commission, Peter Vollmer of the Social Democrats, said the government's proposal to provide half of the funding but only "in principle" would have amounted to an "incomprehensible weakening of the voice of Switzerland".

Max Binder of the rightwing Swiss People's Party led the opposition to reinstating government funding, but did not dispute the importance of the internet service.

Positive sign

"The vote confirms that there is a demand in Switzerland for our journalistic presence," said swissinfo director, Beat Witschi.

"We're very satisfied – it is a positive sign," said Rudolf Wyder, director of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad.

"I'm counting on the Senate making the same decision in December," he added.

The House of Representatives voted in favour of awarding four per cent of radio and television fees paid to subsidise the SBC, the country's public broadcaster, to private radio and television stations.

It also upheld a ban on political and religious advertising for private broadcasters, and extended the ban on alcohol advertisements from public to private radio and TV.


Key facts

The House of Representatives has voted to reinstate government funding for swissinfo.

The important changes to the Radio and Television law being debated:
A clear division between the programming of public and private broadcasters.
An easing of the conditions for granting licences to private broadcasters.
The creation of a neutral commission and advisory panel for the SBC.
New regulations on sponsoring and advertising.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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