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The Invisible Scissors

Media Freedom and Censorship in Switzerland

Marc Höchli

A watchdog, a genuine fourth estate working in the service of a free and liberal democracy, diverse and discursive: this is what we expect of the media. This is how most of the media present themselves: altruistic, serving the interests of res publica and public opinion and promoting democratic discourse. And this is how most Swiss people see their media.
Yet, does the shining image correspond to reality? Or are the much-praised journalistic Elysium of Switzerland and the diversity and quality of the Swiss media tarnished? And to what extent is freedom of the media guaranteed?
This research into the mass media of Switzerland highlights the current threats to the freedom of the media and identifies the scissors of censorship. It scrutinizes the power of advertising, the battle for market share, the infiltration of PR agencies into editorial offices, the quality of journalistic training, self-censorship and infotainment as the supreme credo. The findings show that freedom of the media in Switzerland is severely jeopardised.

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12 Radio and Television 190

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190 12 Radio and Television 12.1 Swiss radio – a success story The history of Swiss radio can be regarded as a genuine success story – not only in terms of outward development, but also when compar- ing the reputation of radio with that of other media for the commu- nication of information. First and foremost, let us take a look at the public radio stations in all four linguistic regions of Switzerland. According to SRG SSR Idée suisse290 nine people out of ten listen to the radio every day, at least as a background medium, because the radio can be switched on almost anywhere: at home, in the car, at work or in a restaurant. This is borne out by the statistics: in 2005, 91 per cent of the population aged 15 or over (that is at least 5.4 million people) listened daily to the radio.291 The average listening time was just under three-quarters-of-an-hour. The programmes of SRG SSR idée suisse were by far the most popular, with an average listening time of 69 minutes. In comparison, people listened to pri- vate radio stations for 25 minutes and to foreign channels for 9 minutes per day. The radio programmes of SRG SSR idée suisse are still the most firmly established and clearly lead the market in all linguistic regions of Switzerland. Depending on the region, competition comes mainly from other Swiss radio channels or from foreign stations. The mar- ket share of SRG SSR also varies from one...

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