On 4 March 2018, we will be voting on the No-Billag popular initiative. The initiators of this initiative are calling for the abolition of Art. 93, para. 2 of the Federal Constitution. This would mean scrapping the TV and radio licence fee and discontinuing public funding from the licence fee for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR) and 34 private regional radio and TV channel stations, as well as auctioning the licences to operate radio and TV stations. The Federal Council, National Council and Council of States recommend that this radical popular initiative be rejected. At its meeting on 3 November 2017, the Board of OSA also clearly expressed its opposition to the initiative. It believes that the services of the public and private radio and television operators are extremely important for Swiss citizens living abroad. They provide a window back home, a window to Switzerland.For the past 15 years, SRG has been fulfilling the federal government’s mission to disseminate information abroad. For example, SRG operates the online platform swissinfo.ch for people abroad, which reports in ten languages on Switzerland, its values and its stance on national and international issues. Swissinfo.ch also publishes the election and voting dossiers for more than 160,000 Swiss citizens living abroad who are eligible to vote. If the damaging No-Billag initiative were to be adopted, it would no longer be possible to provide these services.
SRG and the private broadcasters’ assignment to disseminate information takes Switzerland out into the world. Two examples of this are: TV5Monde, which broadcasts SRG’s French-language news and information programmes to 300 million households a month in over 200 countries. 3Sat, which broadcasts around two and a half hours of programming each day – the majority of which has a cultural focus – reaching some 70 million households in the German-speaking area alone.
In addition, the 21 private regional radios and 13 regional TV stations with a share of the licence fee report on local and regional events in Switzerland. Swiss citizens living abroad can freely access these local media services on the Internet. Should the initiative be adopted, this key part of local reporting would also disappear from our screens.
“If they are to maintain close ties with Switzerland and continue to act as ambassadors for our country, they must have access to high-quality information wherever they are in the world,” emphasizes the Board of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad. During its meeting of 3 November 2017, the Board called for the clear rejection of this initiative.
As Swiss citizens living abroad, you play a crucial role as bridge-builders. We would therefore be very grateful if you could send this information on the popular vote of 4 March 2018 regarding the NoBillag initiative to your members and any other interested organizations.