The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has rejected a so-called “No Billag” initiative to scrap the compulsory Swiss television and radio licence fee. The country will vote on the issue on March 4.
Like parliament and the Federal Council, the OSA board came out against the initiative. “When it comes to information, public service broadcasting is of utmost importance for the Swiss abroad,” the organisation said in a statementexternal link.
More than 775,000 Swiss live abroad, with the number constantly growing. They must have access to top-quality information all around the world in order to maintain a close relationship with Switzerland, OSA said.
“The mandate of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation [swissinfo.ch’s parent company] is essential for Swiss abroad to be able to exercise their political rights,” it added.
In its statement, OSA highlighted swissinfo.ch, which it said “lends Switzerland a voice in the media that can be read and appreciated by the whole world, thus fostering an understanding of Switzerland in an international environment”.
Although Swiss people abroad do not pay a licence fee, subscribers to satellite stations pay a satellite access fee of CHF120 ($120) a year. In addition, Swiss who live in Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere pay a tax for media use in their respective countries.
(Translated from German by Thomas Stephens), swissinfo.ch/sb