The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

National Council committee unanimously against lowering the media levy

Updated at 26 Mar 2024 5:00 pm

The National Council committee responsible rejects the reduction in radio and TV fees from CHF 335 to CHF 300 proposed by the Federal Council at the present time. A revision of the SRG license with a corresponding performance mandate must be submitted first.

This recommendation to the Federal Council was unanimously adopted by the National Council's Committee for Transport and Telecommunications (KVF-N), as reported by the parliamentary services on Tuesday. The level of the radio and TV licence fee will therefore only be discussed following an evaluation of the future of the SRG.

The Federal Council wants to reduce fees with a partial revision of the Radio and Television Ordinance (RTVO) - and thus take the wind out of the sails of an initiative from SVP circles. The popular initiative "200 francs is enough! (SRG initiative)", known as the halving initiative, wants to reduce the media fee to CHF 200.

However, even the SVP members in the KVF-N are critical of this. The tenor is that the scope and content of the public service must be discussed before the financial resources are quantified.

Broad rejection in the consultation process

In the consultation on the Federal Council's amendment to the ordinance, which ended at the beginning of February, the SP, Greens, GLP, trade unions and sports, culture and media associations also opposed the planned reduction in fees for the SRG. They warned of drastic consequences for the media landscape and the public service.

SRG assumes that the reduction in fees will lead to a drop in revenue of around CHF 240 million and a reduction of around 900 SRG jobs in all regions. According to SRG, the measure would also have an impact on sports coverage at major events. The number of Swiss series and films supported and the broadcasting of cultural events would have to be reduced.

In the consultation, the center "considered" a medium-term reduction in household fees to CHF 300 and an increase in the number of companies exempt from the obligation to pay fees.

The FDP and some business associations, on the other hand, felt that the cuts did not go far enough. The SVP feared that this revision would "sweep under the carpet" the discussions on the fee reduction initiative and the SRG's universal service mandate.

Fundamental discussion required

At the beginning of February, the Federal Media Commission (Emek) also described the halving initiative and the Federal Council's counter-concept as "not sensible". It called for a fundamental rethink of the basic media service.

According to the Emek, the reduced fee would involve "drastic cuts to the program in some cases". This would happen "just at a time of major challenges for the media in Switzerland".

©Keystone/SDA

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