SRG SSR warns of significant cuts if levy reductions pass

29th November 2023
The Swiss public broadcaster warned it could see as many as 900 jobs lost if a proposed cut to the licence fee passes.
The offices of SRG SSR in Bern. Credit: SRG SSR


  • 70 percent of the broadcaster’s revenue comes from licence fees, which are currently set at CHF 335 per household.
  • A proposed reduction, coupled with a declining advertising market, could force major job and programming cuts, the broadcaster has warned.


The Swiss public broadcasting association, SRG SSR, has warned of significant job cuts and a reduction in content if a proposed levy reduction passes.

The broadcaster said any such adjustment, coupled with falling advertising revenue, would have serious ramifications “to the detriment of the audience.”

70 percent of the broadcasters’ revenue comes from licence fees, which are currently set at CHF335 per household, with the remainder coming from advertising and sponsorship.

The Swiss government has proposed a two-stage reduction to licence fees, which would see the fee (currently CHF 335 per year) reduced to CHF 312 in 2027, before a further reduction to CHF 300 in 2029. A consultation process has been launched which will run until February. The views expressed in the consultation will then feed into the Federal Council’s final decision. This decision will not be put to either the Swiss public, or Parliament.

The Federal Council’s funding reduction measure has been put forward to weaken support for a separate proposal which, if approved, would reduce SRG SSR’s funding even more substantially. This initiative, which will be put to a referendum after gaining 130,000 signatures, proposes bringing the licence fee to just 200 francs, a 45 percent decrease from the current rate.

Read more: SRG SSR opposes proposed reduction in Swiss media levy

The Federal Council has recommended this proposal be rejected and will explain its reasoning in a message to parliament next year. But because it was launched by popular initiative, it will still go to a referendum where it will need double majority support.

The communications minister, Albert Rösti, said such a drastic reduction would have “significant repercussions on the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s journalistic offering and regional roots”.

Yet the compromise proposal is still considered a significant threat to Swiss public broadcasting, with SRG SSR warning this week that it could mean the loss of as many as 900 jobs.

It said the reduction in levies would create a CHF240 million funding gap from 2027, with an annual loss of CHF100 million licence fee revenue. It also expects to lose about CHF70 million due to a decline in advertising revenue.

Listen toour podcast

Uncovering and exploring the biggest
issues facing public media

“This accumulation of financial challenges would have a profound impact on programming and staff. Overall, it would be expected that around 900 jobs would have to be cut gradually,” the company statement read.

It also warned that any reduction would see the broadcasters struggle to meet their performance mandate, with cuts unlikely to regional offices and outside broadcasts of events no longer possible. Swiss film, sports and cultural broadcasts would also likely be affected, it said.

“The entire Swiss media market benefits from a healthy and solidly financed public media company,” SRG General Director Gilles Marchand said this week.

“SRG is doing everything it can to compensate for the sharp decline in its commercial revenue. Further weakening would certainly have a negative impact on the quality of the program’s services, in all regions. To the detriment of the audience.”

He also warned that any reduction would have knock-on consequences for independent producers and other cultural organisations that work with SRG SSR, with job losses likely in that sector, too.

“At a time when the media is struggling with growing financial problems and jobs are being cut, it is wrong to massively weaken the SRG” – Jean-Michel Cina, SRG Board President.

Last week, the SRG SSR position was supported by the Swiss Syndicate of Media Professionals, the union which represents many of the broadcaster’s employees.

SRG SSR said it was preparing a strong proposal that would demonstrate the value it adds to Swiss society.

“A democracy thrives on citizens being well informed. At a time when the media is struggling with growing financing problems and jobs are being cut, it is wrong to massively weaken the SRG,” board president Jean-Michel Cina said in a statement.

Founded in 1931, SRG SSR is the holding company for 26 radio and television channels available in all of Switzerland’s four official languages, plus the ten-language international news platform Swissinfo.