Media diversity, or is it stinky?

Do you remember what an outhouse smells like? Recently in the Zurich S-Bahn I was reminded: the toilet in the middle of the compartment had a problem. Not enough – at the next stop someone sat opposite me, unpacking his Schabziger cheese and eating it with some bread. The smell is an imposition – at least for my nose. I cursed my decision to use public transport and longed for my car. Travel in my own bubble.

After this experience, I could call for the abolition of local public transport and launch a popular initiative to abolish SBB subsidies. You would find that stupid? Spilled the baby with the bath water? Yes, so do I.

But it is precisely with this kind of logic that the abolition of the Billag fee is being negotiated. For many, “Glanz&Gloria” may be a superfluous programme, but questioning the entire public television and radio network for it seems a little excessive. Because that’s what it’s all about when the Billag fees are cut: No Billag = No Tagesschau = No 10 vor 10 = No Sportpanorama= No SRF3 = No SRF+ = No Happy Day (Yes, that’s the audience favourite) and No local radio diversity. All gone. Do we want that? Not me.

The alternatives are not convincing: A Teleclub basic subscription costs over 450 francs per year and then there are no independent journalists at work. A Tagesanzeiger online subscription costs over 300 francs a year. With less than 100 francs, Zattoo is really cheap – but should we let Germans and Austrians explain world affairs to us when there is no Swiss television on Zattoo anymore? I like Switzerland’s own perspective and want to see it on Swiss radio and television.

Now there would be the possibility to subsidize SRF and other media. If No Billag is accepted, this would be an alternative strategy. Left pocket – right pocket. But then we have exactly the state television that No Billag wanted to abolish. No Billag = it just stinks to me. That has not been thought through. I vote no.

This text appeared on 27.11.2017 as a column in the Handelszeitung.

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