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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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13 The Internet – progressing by fits and starts 208

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208 13 The Internet – progressing by fits and starts 13.1 Round-the-clock presence The boom years at the beginning of the 1990s were over just as quickly as they had come, and following the cyber crash of 1999/2000, the end of the Internet media era was foretold by a number of established experts and an even greater number of self- proclaimed experts. However, history took a different turn and to- day Internet media represent a strong fourth power in the media scene, along with print media, radio and television. Internet media have definite advantages over all other media. Pro- viding people have the necessary financial resources and technical access, both the educational curriculum and cultural background Internet media allow users to retrieve constantly updated informa- tion at any time of the day or night. This is, without any doubt, the case in Switzerland and likewise in all other developed countries such as Germany, France or England. According to the German Marktforschungsinstitut (Institute for Market Research), the per capita income in Switzerland in 2006 was 25,700322. Instruction in the use of Internet is already a compulsory part of the curriculum at primary school, and even old-age pensioners can attend the free or low-priced courses organised by old people’s homes and other social institutions. Compared with radio and television, there are no fixed times for information broadcasts or news blocks. News in the Internet is available at all times and, in contrast to newspapers, it is not yester- day’s news. Thanks to...

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