In a report entitled "Ensuring the political and democratic functions of the media", published in December 2014, the Federal Council (the Swiss government) presented an overview of the Swiss media landscape and highlighted approaches for supporting the media. The report comes to the conclusion that concentration of the media is increasing and the shift of advertising revenue to online media continues to adversely affect traditional newspapers, whereby smaller local and regional newspapers are particularly impacted. Thanks to their diversified portfolios, the large publishing houses are better able to cope with such structural upheavals. Local and regional online offerings, however, are finding it difficult to establish themselves in the media market. The report responds to the motion on "Ensuring the political and democratic functions of the media", submitted by the Political Institutions Committee (PIC) of the National Council on 19 January 2012.
Even though the upheavals in the media industry raise the question of new models of support, the Federal Council considers that the media industry can largely cope with the structural changes. In the event that Parliament deems accompanying support measures for the structural change appropriate, the report identifies options for action which can be implemented in the short term, in addition to longer terms options.
In an initial phase, quick-acting measures could be implemented without time-consuming amendments to the legislation, such as aligning the VAT rates for print and online products or reinforcing commitment to training and professional development for workers in the media. There is also the possibility of supporting the basic service of SDA, the Swiss national news agency in French and Italian, with an annual contribution. The continuation of indirect support for the press via delivery subsidies for newspapers and magazines is still deemed appropriate, in order not to increase the pressure on the printed press.
In the medium and long term, the Federal Council considers it appropriate to launch a debate on the definition of the public service in order to examine whether it is appropriate to support online media, alongside the established radio and television service offerings which are already being supported. A Federal Council report on the subject is expected for 2016.
The Federal Council's findings and proposals largely mirror those of the Federal Media Commission (FMEC), which were published in September 2014. The Federal Council however expressed reservations - owing to constitutional grounds, content and organisation - about the independent, non-governmental foundation envisaged for allocating subsidies proposed by the FMEC.