“Sympathy” among publishers for the anti-SSR initiative

The head of the CH Media press group, Peter Wanner, admitted on Thursday at the Swiss Media Forum in Lucerne “sympathy” for the initiative to reduce the radio-TV fee from 335 to 200 francs per year. KEYSTONE/URS FLUEELER sda-ats

This content was published on September 15, 2022 – 14:58

(Keystone ATS)

The new initiative to reduce the resources of the SSR is met with sympathy from the publishers, showed a round table at the Swiss Media Forum on Thursday. Private groups denounce “a distortion of competition”, the SSR calls for cooperation.

“All media will be better if the SSR concentrates on its core business,” launched the head of the CH media group, Peter Wanner, on the occasion of the traditional “Round of the Elephants”, where those responsible for the major press groups in Lucerne met Swiss.

Peter Wanner thus expressed “sympathy” for the text presented by a civil committee last March to reduce radio and television fees to CHF 200. He referred in particular to the SSR’s digital offering, which is in direct competition with that of the private sector. “We have a problem that needs to be addressed,” Peter Wanner called for a meeting between the SSR and the publishers.

“A problem to be solved”

“There are elements in the text that we support,” admitted the general director of the NZZ Group, Felix Graf. A decrease in resources would allow the SSR to focus more on what matters, he concludes.

“It’s a problem we need to solve. We need to sit down and discuss the framework,” said the President of TX Group Pietro Supino, recalling that the sum made available to the SSR through royalties is high, in line with what the publishers have in common earn on the market.

Marc Walder, the head of the Ringier Group, was the only one who spoke out against the initiative. Nevertheless, he called on the SSR to take publishers’ interests into account. “Solutions must be found and we will find them,” he said.

“We can do things together”

The Director General of the SSR Gilles Marchand defended the role of the SSR, whose programs are appreciated by the public. He recalled the savings the company had already made after voting on the No Billag initiative in 2018.

“The debate is necessary. This discussion is not only taking place with publishers, but with society as a whole,” underlined Gilles Marchand.

He called on publishers to cooperate. “We can do things together that benefit everyone. At the end of the day, you have to look at the overall interest of the industry,” explains the Vaud native and recalls the initiative launched in 2018 for a joint login at the Swiss Media Forum. This instrument is now a reality.

“An alliance for advertising”

For his part, on the subject of cooperation, Pietro Supino urged his colleagues to create an “alliance for advertising”, an area that he believes has been neglected by the industry in recent years.

He stressed that press groups would certainly have achieved record results in 2021. In order to be able to continue financing a journalistic offer, however, additional income is necessary, emphasized Pietro Supino.

The publishers also sometimes feared pressure from politics, Felix Graf referred to press aid as a means of trying to influence the media. Everyone agreed that the protection of sources was non-negotiable and that journalistic independence had to be defended at all costs.

Journalists, not activists

Nevertheless, Pietro Supino warned against the distrust of the media that can currently be observed among the population. This state of mind was particularly evident in the countryside during the last vote on February 13 on aid to the press, he said.

“Credibility is our capital,” he stressed, adding that journalists should not be activists. You must observe and explain the world so that people can form their own opinions. But they are not opinion makers.”

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