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Reporting when the current media system is at stake: explaining news coverage about the initiative on the abolishment of public service broadcasting in Switzerland


Schwaiger, Lisa; Häuptli, Andrea; Vogler, Daniel; Eisenegger, Mark; Udris, Linards (2020). Reporting when the current media system is at stake: explaining news coverage about the initiative on the abolishment of public service broadcasting in Switzerland. In: Tandoc, Edson C; Jenkins, Joy; Thomas, Ryan J; Westlund, Oscar. Critical incidents in journalism: pivotal moments reshaping journalism around the world. London: Routledge, 71-84.

Abstract

On March 4, 2018, citizens in Switzerland rejected the “No Billag” initiative. The initiative demanded the abolition of the mandatory license fee for broadcasting. In Switzerland’s small and fragmented news market, these organizations most likely would be unable to operate without this funding on a purely commercial basis and would ultimately cease to exist. Thus, the media system as a whole was at stake. As expected, economic (self-)interests of media companies were reflected in news coverage, showing the impact of the profit rationale. The public service broadcaster was severely challenged, as proponents of the initiative and other media in several news articles claimed that its news reporting should be absolutely balanced between both sides, despite the fact that the opposing camp was much larger. Journalists’ engagement with the initiative was done through a national lens, with relatively explicit references to developments or the role of public service broadcasting in other countries or to global challenges coming from the tech companies.

Abstract

On March 4, 2018, citizens in Switzerland rejected the “No Billag” initiative. The initiative demanded the abolition of the mandatory license fee for broadcasting. In Switzerland’s small and fragmented news market, these organizations most likely would be unable to operate without this funding on a purely commercial basis and would ultimately cease to exist. Thus, the media system as a whole was at stake. As expected, economic (self-)interests of media companies were reflected in news coverage, showing the impact of the profit rationale. The public service broadcaster was severely challenged, as proponents of the initiative and other media in several news articles claimed that its news reporting should be absolutely balanced between both sides, despite the fact that the opposing camp was much larger. Journalists’ engagement with the initiative was done through a national lens, with relatively explicit references to developments or the role of public service broadcasting in other countries or to global challenges coming from the tech companies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute for Research on the Public Sphere and Society
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:9 December 2020
Deposited On:10 Feb 2021 16:54
Last Modified:10 Feb 2021 17:01
Publisher:Routledge
ISBN:9781003019688
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003019688-8

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