Swiss reject government aid for media

In a referendum held on the weekend the Swiss voted by around 55 percent against a new law on media subsidies. The envisaged package of measures amounted to 151 million Swiss francs per year [about 144 million euros] and would have supported private media outlets. Left-wing parties campaigned for the package while the conservative and the right-wing populist SVP were against it. Reactions in Swiss media are also divided.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Public's confidence shaken

Subsidies for reporters would have been more than politically questionable, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes in delight:

“The rejection of additional financial aid could also be a reaction to reporting in coronavirus times. The media's credibility has been put to the test in these last two unusual years. Their conspicuous closeness to the state and the - as we now know - loyalty to the government of certain outlets imposed by their management must have shaken the confidence of many citizens in the fourth estate of democracy.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Result needs further discussion

Swiss media must ask themselves whether the No vote was due to specific weaknesses in the proposed package or to general dissatisfaction, the Tages-Anzeiger urges:

“The fact is that many aspects of our direct democracy and our everyday coexistence will be endangered in the absence of independent information and a common basis for discussion. The fact that many regional newspapers will not survive in the medium term without state help was not an empty threat in the referendum campaign, but a reality. If more and more people concoct their world view on so-called alternative platforms, this does not bode well for our debate culture.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Media must take a good look at themselves

The media must learn from the outcome of the vote and prove to the people how important their survival is, Le Temps comments:

“Whatever else one says, Sunday, February 13 will force editorial offices to question themselves. The result shows that the media are seen as complacent and subject to external influence. ... The only possible answer is to work even harder, to constantly search for opinions that contradict one's own, to continue investigative journalism and field work, and to be innovative. The Swiss media will have no choice but to prove that they are indispensable even in a society dominated by Google, Facebook and Co.”