Switzerland | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Switzerland

Switzerland

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

11

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

3

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

5

Swiss media are free from editorial and government interference but operate mainly along linguistic-regional divisions. Media freedom is guaranteed in the constitution, although the penal code prohibits racist or anti-Semitic speech. Government information is available freely to all persons living in the country, including foreign media. In December 2004, the Parliament adopted new transparency legislation providing for public access to government documents, but the law had not been implemented by year's end. The 10 Muhammad cartoons published by a Danish newspaper in September 2005 triggered a nationwide discussion about freedom of expression and religious freedom. Swiss newspapers published the cartoons.

Broadcast media are dominated by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), which operates 7 television networks and 18 radio stations and is a public service association subject to private law. The corporation is mandated to provide radio and television programs in all four national languages (in order of population size, German, French, Italian, and Romansch) and to promote mutual understanding and exchange among all Swiss communities. It is dependent on the government for financing, although its news reporting is politically neutral. Revenue from licensing fees is distributed from the dominant German-speaking region to the others in order for all to be able to produce their own programming. Some private broadcasters are beginning to emerge but have not significantly challenged the SBC. Owing to market forces and the multilingual nature of the country, most private stations are limited to local and regional broadcasts. Nearly all homes are connected to cable networks, all of which provide access to international commercial stations. Daily newspapers are owned by large multimedia conglomerates, which have steadily pushed smaller publications out of the market. Ownership is concentrated, and advertising has been declining. Newspaper readership levels are high, while internet access is open, unrestricted, and widespread at 66 percent of the population.