Swiss media is relatively free from the harsh restrictions you might encounter in other regions of the world like Asia and the Middle East. The Swiss owe this freedom to the basic rights detailed in their Constitution.
According to Article 93 of the Swiss Federal Constitution, the media are free to form their own opinion, are independent of any state influence, and have full autonomy with regard to content. It also emphasizes that they should promote cultural and educational development, present events factually, and reflect the full diversity of perspectives.
The government does not even get involved with censorship; Switzerland has an independently owned, expert supervisory board that is separate from the authorities and parliament.
Due to the variety of language in Switzerland, many media companies are required to produce and distribute radio and television broadcasts that are of equal quality in German, French, and Italian.
Photo Credit: Swiss National Library
With 104 daily newspapers, 115 television stations, and 119 radio stations, Switzerland’s media structure is extremely diverse and accommodates to all types of people.
The largest media broadcasting company in Switzerland is called SRG SSR. SRG is largely funded by a license fee, which makes up 75% of their income. The remaining income is acquired through TV advertisements and sponsorship.
The license fee is a hotly debated topic in Switzerland today. Essentially, the license fee means that any person or business based in Switzerland that receives television or radio services must pay a fee, according to the Federal Radio and Television Act. This fee must be paid regardless of what programs are watched or listen to, and what method they use, such as cable, satellite, mobile phone, or internet.
The controversy over this issue is that it does not take into account media habits; each person pays the same price no matter how many TV channels they use or radio broadcasts they listen to. In addition to this, Billag, the agency that partners with the government to collect the license fees, does invasive “home checks” to ensure that no household is lying about whether they own a TV or radio.
All things considered, Switzerland is a great place for the media to thrive. Despite the issue over funding and license fees, the overall media landscape is free, diverse, and well represented.