Switzerland | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Media freedom is guaranteed in the constitution and generally respected by the government. The penal code prohibits racial hatred or discrimination. Even though the law does not explicitly prohibit anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial, there have been convictions for such forms of expression. Dogu Perincek, a Turkish politician who publicly denied the Armenian genocide while in Switzerland, was convicted in March 2007 and ordered to pay a fine; he vowed to appeal. Transparency legislation adopted in December 2004 went into effect on July 1, 2006. The law applies only to documents produced after July 1, 2006, and contains numerous exceptions.

In 1997, a Swiss federal court found two journalists guilty of inciting an official to disclose a secret, an act considered to be a criminal offense under Article 293 of the Swiss criminal code. However, in April 2006, the European Court of Human Rights overturned the ruling, arguing that a reporter’s right to protect his or her sources superseded the domestic Swiss judgment. An editor and two journalists working for Sonntagsblick—one of the most popular newspapers in the country—were acquitted in April 2007 after being tried by a military tribunal and awarded compensation. The three were responsible for a 2006 story about an Egyptian fax intercepted by the Swiss Intelligence Service that referred to confidential allegations of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. The Swiss Defense Ministry charged the journalists with violating “military secrecy,” which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Broadcast media are dominated by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, a public service association subject to private law that operates 7 television networks and 18 radio stations. The corporation is dependent on the government for financing, although its news reporting is politically neutral. 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 that provide access to international commercial stations. Daily newspapers are owned by large media conglomerates, which have steadily pushed smaller publications out of the market. The internet is unrestricted by the government and accessed by 69 percent of the population.