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What can you buy for one franc in Switzerland?

February 7, 2018, No comments

One franc can’t buy you much in Switzerland. Not even a cup of coffee. But a franc a day is all it costs to have access to Swiss public TV, radio and online content. In comparison, everything else you can get for a franc seems poor value so I had a look at what one franc can buy.

Swiss public media for a franc a day. That’s what it will soon cost and it’s not a bad deal at all. But it is under threat from those who want to strip public funding from TV, radio and online content, effectively privatising it. Bad idea. In a political system of direct democracy, it’s essential that the public is informed from balanced, independent, objective news sources. And that isn’t Blocher TV or Swiss Fox News.

Public funding is achieved by every household in Switzerland paying the Billag, or license fee, which accounts for 75% of the budget of SRG, the parent company of all public radio, TV and related websites. Some advertising and sponsorship is also allowed to help balance the books, but it’s minimal, eg one advert break during a film.

Some people complain about paying the obligatory Billag even though they might never watch Swiss TV. I could say the same about my taxes going towards schools and roads even though I have no children and no car. It’s called building a society so that everyone benefits.

The alternative is to privatise everything with a pay-as-you-use format, so only the wealthy can afford things. Paying to watch the evening news every day would cost a lot more than one franc; even a newspaper like the NZZ is four francs.

On 4 March Swiss voters will cast judgement on a right-wing proposal to abolish the Billag. The only parliamentary party supporting the NoBillag initiative is the SVP, presumably so they can try to monopolise and monetise the resulting private media world. We only have to look at America to see that getting rid of publicly-funded media is a bad idea.

Say No to NoBillag!

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