Vetoing a Negative Begets a Positive

Posted by on Mar 4, 2018 in, Media, Swiss Votes, Switzerland | No Comments

23:25 (UTC+08:00), 04 MAR 2018 | CHN CHAOYANGMEN, BEIJING

Sometimes Swiss politics absolutely doesn’t make any sense at all. (As if you thought our split or semi-cantons made any sense to begin with.) People from much of our country wanted to keep things the way they were — by calling on people to veto a proposal that itself would veto the existence of TV and radio (or actually, more accurately, media) licencing fees.

If you thought people in Britain blew up in fits of fury and rage over Auntie Beeb helping herself to £145.50 a year for ad-free BBC to be viewed by those in Blighty, then they must consider themselves super-lucky. In Switzerland we easily pay double — it’s Fr. 451.10! (That’s probably something like £348.45; yes, everything‘s expensive in Switzerland: take a dump at Euston, pay 50p; take a dump at Zürich Main Station, pay nearly four times the amount — Fr. 2.—!)

Sick to death of such mediatised extortion, some of us (of course, not me or my family) went ahead and launched a motion to kill the fee altogether and to also ban subventions (or grants) by the Swiss federal government. The idea here is to pay what you watch, not a lump sum just for the hell of it. Never mind the fee was set to sink to Fr. 365.— by 2019; for some, anything over Fr. 0.— seemed to be enough.

But it’s hugely important we’re in the know about what the public Swiss broadcasting system does deliver: High quality programming, shows in all Swiss languages (especially Rumantsch, which I feel remains under-represented), and media channels that aren’t direct copycats of maybe FOX News in the US (or CCTV in China, or KCNA in north Korea). Dumping Billag (the TV Licensing of Switzerland, so to speak), would put us on a very dangerous course to overly-commercialised content where money, not quality, was the defining factor. Meantime, shows in regional languages few spoke in real life would probably go down the shredder. Not good stuff! So we cared that we saved our pluralistic, diverse, multilingual broadcasting, and I was the first to put my vote in — seal it — and was about to send it off when new recording equipment meant the critical envelope got buried!

As if my single vote would matter, though: about three-quarters of Switzerland nixed the attempt and dumped the motion. Thank Heavens for that — it means that Swiss media would remain one of the most respected and balanced in the world (given who’s in the White House these days, this indeed is becoming an increasingly rare asset!).

I hate myself for never sending the ballot. But I cannot hate today’s results, which remain highly crucial in keeping Switzerland, well, Switzerland, in front of the mic, in front of the cameras. Never change a winning team!