New rules for radio and television from 1 April 2007
Berne, 09.03.2007 - The Federal Council has adopted the new Decree on Radio and Television (DRTV). It includes the implementing provisions for the Law on Radio and Television (LRTV) which has also been completely amended. Both enactments enter into force on 1 April 2007. Amongst other things, the new decree specifies the regulations governing advertising and sponsorship, fee splitting, the technical broadcasting of radio and television programmes, as well as reception fees.
With effect from 1 April, new rules apply for radio and television. The new LRTV, which Parliament adopted on 24 March 2006, provides the most important guidelines. According to the new law, broadcasters demanding neither a share of fees nor guaranteed distribution, will in future not require a licence and will not have to fulfil a service mandate. They will merely be subject to compulsory registration. In comparison with today, private broadcasters will receive more extensive advertising options, and the share of the reception fees for local/regional radio stations and television channels will be greatly increased (fee splitting). The decree specifies that the financing of an individual broadcaster may amount to no more than half of its operating costs. However, in the case of regional television broadcasters in areas that are particularly expensive to operate, the upper limit is 70%.
Most important implementing provisions
The implementing provisions of the law also affect the admissibility of advertising and sponsorship. Private broadcaster will obtain considerably more commercial freedom (duration of advertising, commercial breaks, introduction of new forms of advertising such as split-screen and virtual advertising). For the SRG the status quo remains, with a few exceptions: In contrast to today, the SRG is also banned from broadcasting commercial programme windows, as well as independent advertising and sponsorship on the internet. The company's options have been extended in regard to television (among other things, the inclusion of virtual and split screen commercials during the transmission of sports programmes) and furthermore product placement is now permitted.
With regard to the distribution of programmes by cable, the Federal Council has exercised the provision to oblige cable network operators to broadcast certain foreign programmes in addition to Swiss programmes. These are the following eight foreign television channels: Arte, 3sat, Euronews, TV5, ARD, ORF 1, France 2 and Rai Uno. The Decree also stipulates the maximum number of programmes which a cable network operator is obliged to broadcast: this is 25 analogue television channels, being a combination of both foreign and Swiss channels.
In order to align reception fees, the Federal Council had already made a preliminary decision on 8 December 2006 to increase fees by a total of 2.5 percent - or approximately one Swiss franc per private household per month. The Federal Council is implementing this preliminary decision in the new DRTV in such a way that television reception fees will be increased by 4.1 percent, whereas radio reception fees will remain unchanged. In this way, the Federal Council is taking into consideration the fact that television costs are evolving differently from those in radio.
Various amendments to the draft
The decree adopted by Parliament takes into account various amendments requested by interested parties within the framework of a public consultation on the draft decree last summer. So in the case of the SRG, amongst other things, the ban on commercial breaks during the screening of films and product placement were cancelled, in the case of private broadcasters the upper limit of the annual fee share in relation to the operating costs of a broadcaster was considerably increased, in the case of complementary radio the ban on sponsorship was cancelled. The maximum time slot for brief reports on public events in the draft was doubled to three minutes. In addition, an obligation to indicate aurally or visually any programmes on freely available television channels that could be potentially inappropriate for young viewers was added.
Address for enquiries
Matthias Ramsauer, Deputy Director, Head of Radio and Television Section, 032 327 55 10
Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications