What is left for the Swiss abroad?

Armin Walpen announces the job cuts Keystone

The director general of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), Armin Walpen, says the drastic cutbacks at swissinfo are not a loss for the Swiss abroad.

This content was published on March 22, 2005 - 19:02

Walpen spoke to swissinfo shortly after Tuesday’s announcement that eight of the online service’s nine language services would be axed.

swissinfo: What will remain of swissinfo following the restructuring?

Armin Walpen: swissinfo will still have an English service and produce special dossiers in the national languages for the Swiss abroad – information that they won’t be able to find elsewhere.

swissinfo: Will that be enough to satisfy the needs of the Swiss abroad?

A.W.: We think the situation for Swiss expatriates today is quite different to how it was 20 years ago. We now have access to all kinds of information. I’m convinced that there is lots of information accessible on the websites of the various SBC units.

It’s also important to note that many [private and public] Swiss organisations and institutions have their own websites. The situation has changed dramatically. If you look at it that way, this decision is justified.

swissinfo: The Organisation for the Swiss Abroad (ASO) and its council have spoken out against the swissinfo cutbacks. Do you plan on having talks with them and - if possible - trying to change their opinion?

A.W.: I can’t change anyone’s mind. We’ve made our decision and justified it.

swissinfo: If the ASO is successful in lobbying politicians to promise funding for swissinfo again, could swissinfo be reborn in its present form?

A.W.: I don’t know, but legally we are obliged to fulfil our international mandate if the government decides again to subsidise such a service.

swissinfo: Are the Swiss abroad no longer a priority?

A.W.: By no means. In my opinion, we already offer a great amount for the Swiss abroad on our SBC websites.

I think that if the government takes a decision, this applies as much for the Swiss abroad as it does for the Swiss at home.

swissinfo-interview: Philippe Kropf

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