Switzerland: Blocher now king of the free papers

Zeitungshaus AG, owned by the Swiss right-wing populist politician Christoph Blocher, has agreed to sell the Basler Zeitung to the Tamedia group. In exchange the Swiss People's Party politician will gain control of Zurich's free newspaper Tagblatt and a stake in several free newspapers in Western Switzerland. Observers find the developments in the Swiss media landscape alarming.

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Le Courrier (CH) /

Country facing an ideological tsunami

French-speaking Switzerland in particular will be inundated with ideological publications, Le Courrier warns:

“The goal of the former SPP federal councillor is to create a network of titles that can serve as an ideological task force. ... Consequently the French-speaking Swiss may well have to get used to a barrage of propaganda served up by the far-right party. ... In Zurich the Greens have already proposed mailbox stickers for those who don't want to receive this ideological pollution. But that may not be enough to stop the approaching Blocherian tidal wave.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Media-assisted polarisation

The press deal will allow the populists to press ahead with the division of Switzerland, Le Temps writes:

“Everything is apparently aimed at creating a two-speed media landscape. ... On the one hand a globalised elite of readers who can afford theNZZ, the Tages-Anzeiger or Le Temps as well as a group of people who buy the regional papers - which continue to be of good quality. On the other a population fed by a yellow press filled with oversimplified graphs on the exploding asylum application figures and security threats. In this way the populists could reshape the Swiss press landscape, assisted by media groups that are increasingly divesting themselves of their quality newspapers. No doubt that's how they hope to complete the polarisation of Switzerland.”