Swiss Voters Consider Public Aid Plan for Newspapers, Media

By JAMEY KEATEN, Related Press

GENEVA (AP) — It’s a widespread lament: Conventional newspapers, particularly small native ones, and different media retailers have seen subscriptions dry up as worldwide web behemoths have swooped in available on the market for ads that lengthy helped each day, weekly and month-to-month publications survive.

In Switzerland, the federal government has laid out plans to assist. Swiss voters get remaining say Sunday in what polls have recommended is turning into an more and more tight contest.

Voters have been casting ballots on the federal government’s plan, handed in June, to inject greater than 150 million francs (about $163 million) into broadcast and print media yearly, together with — in a primary — help early-morning newspaper supply and on-line media to the tune of 70 million francs (practically $76 million) yearly.

Opponents of the plan pulled collectively sufficient signatures in a petition drive to place the difficulty earlier than the general public, a part of Switzerland’s specific type of democracy that provides voters within the nation of 8.5 million a direct say in policymaking a number of instances a yr.

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Foes of the plan say the money injection would waste taxpayer cash, profit massive newspaper chains and the media moguls who run them and harm journalistic independence — by making media retailers extra depending on state handouts and thus much less prone to criticize public officers. In addition they say it’s discriminatory: Free newspapers, for instance, wouldn’t profit.

“A media sponsored by the state is a media below management. Because the adage goes: ‘Don’t bit the hand that feeds you,’” wrote the opponents who pressed for the referendum. They are saying massive print-media teams collectively took in additional than 300 million in earnings in 2020, even through the COVID-19 disaster.

Many different nations in Europe and past supply help to newspapers akin to by way of postal payment reductions, tax breaks and different measures.

Supporters of the money injection counter that journalism, particularly in native areas which have been ill-served by massive media teams, must be thought-about a public service, as are many public radio and tv broadcasters in Switzerland, round Europe.

“Media teams are preventing to outlive. Advert revenues for print press haven’t stopped declining or are getting swallowed up by giants like Fb and Google, and subscriptions aren’t sufficient,” wrote the Swiss Inexperienced get together, which helps the measure.

The brand new cash would largely go towards subsidies or tax breaks on distribution of print media, coaching for journalists, and help for information businesses in Switzerland. A few of the funds would go publications by associations or non-governmental teams like Swiss-based WWF or the nation’s best-known car affiliation.

Proponents insist that newspapers in Switzerland need assistance, saying greater than 70 have disappeared since 2003. Promoting income in all print publications plunged 42% between 2016-2020 in Switzerland.

Some 30 million francs would go to on-line publications to assist ensure that readers can get native information by way of the web.

The media subsidy measure is certainly one of 4 points on ballots nationwide on Sunday. One other considers a authorities plan to eradicate some legacy charges on firms — and primarily granting them a tax break. Yet one more goals to restrict promoting for tobacco merchandise in areas frequented by kids.

A fourth problem would ban use of animals and other people in assessments, with some exceptions – passage of which might have main implications for each imports of some merchandise and analysis in Switzerland’s much-vaunted pharmaceutical trade.

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