The Swiss public have voted overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the licence fee in a national vote held on March 4th 2018.
The ‘No Billag’ initiative was filed in Switzerland in late 2015, calling for the abolition of the TV and radio licence fee. Billag is the name of the private company responsible for collecting the licence fee in Switzerland.
The Swiss have the right to propose an amendment to the Constitution if they can collect over 100,000 signatories in support of an initiative. After consideration by the Federal Council and National Assembly, the initiative goes to a public vote.
Seventy-one per cent of the national vote was in favour of continuing to pay the annual TV and radio licence fee. The No Billag initiative was rejected across all of Switzerland’s linguistic regions.
If the No Billag initiative had succeeded, it would have led to the closure of EBU Member SRG SSR and left Switzerland as the only European country without a public service broadcaster.
“We are delighted that the public have voted in such huge numbers to retain the licence fee in Switzerland,” declared EBU Director General Noel Curran. “This is a real vote of confidence in public service media and its critical role in enriching the cultural, social, economic and democratic life of society. The campaign has also afforded all of us an opportunity to reflect on the future of public service media and on the lessons learned.”
“This campaign has facilitated a broad debate about the role and the place of public service broadcasting in a media landscape undergoing full-scale upheaval,” noted Gilles Marchand, Director General of SRG SSR. “However, the outcome of the vote is not the end of things for SRG SSR. It is a new beginning. It obliges us to adapt our enterprise to our new operating climate and to the changing needs of society, as we listen to its expectations and its criticisms.”
“It is also a very strong signal to the whole of Europe in that, for the first time, public service broadcasting has been able to base its legitimacy directly on the support of the general electorate.”