Switzerland vote to retain license fee for state broadcaster

Member of the Council of States Filippo Lombardi, Joachim Eder, member of the Council of States and National Councillor Edith Graf-Litscher, from left, react after the first projections concerning the No Billag initiative, on Sunday, in Bern. (AP)
Updated 05 March 2018

Switzerland vote to retain license fee for state broadcaster

ZURICH: Swiss citizens clearly rejected an attempt to abolish fees for state radio and TV in a referendum vote on Sunday seen as protecting public service broadcasting in the country.
Had the proposal passed, Switzerland would have been the first European country to abolish mandatory license fees for its public service broadcaster.
Nearly 72 percent voted against the proposal to scrap the so-called Billag fees in a referendum under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy.
Every household pays a 451 Swiss franc ($480.8) annual charge to fund Swiss public broadcasters. Their budgets faced being cut by three quarters if the vote had been successful.
Communications minister Doris Leuthard said she was pleased Swiss voters had shown they were prepared to pay a fee for public services and did not want purely commercial broadcasting.
The Swiss government had opposed the proposal, saying it threatened media diversity and would damage political debate in the country of 8.4 million people divided into four different language groups.
“Radio and television in Switzerland should also in the future contribute to education, cultural development, forming opinions as well as entertainment,” she told a news conference. “I am pleased that media diversity has been maintained.”
Broadcasters should continue to serve all Swiss, Leuthard added.
Opponents had said abolishing the fee would lead to reduced independence for broadcasters and undermine services for Switzerland’s four different linguistic regions.
Campaigners against the fee had argued that state broadcaster SRG was too large and must save money. They also said that charging fees had become outmoded, especially in an era of streaming services such as Netflix.
“At present we have a near monopoly with a state-controlled broadcasting company. But by cutting down the subsidy it receives, a freer market for the media will exist in Switzerland,” said Florian Maier, secretary general of the No Billag campaign.
In a second vote on Sunday, 84.1 percent of voters approved extending the government’s right to levy income and sales taxes to 2035.
Unlike other countries, Switzerland gives the central government the right to raise taxes only for a limited time, with the current arrangement due to finish at the end of 2020.
($1 = 0.9380 Swiss francs)

The Six: The UAE’s most Googled people in 2018

UAE's most Googled people in 2018. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 December 2018

The Six: The UAE’s most Googled people in 2018

DUBAI: Google recently released its list of the world’s most searched for topics in 2018 and the UAE’s list of the most googled personalities show just how celebrity obsessed we all are at heart.

If you’re late to the party, grab your phone and google these famous names now.

Meghan Markle
The American-born British royal was the most googled personality in the world in 2018 — and UAE-based Internet users mirrored that trend.

Nick Jonas
The second most googled personality in the UAE this year climbed to new heights of fame when he married Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra in December.

Logan Paul
Third on the list is disgraced YouTube star Logan Paul, who was widely criticized at the beginning of the year when he uploaded a video that showed the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan.

Sylvester Stallone
Fourth on the list is “Rocky” star Stallone, who also happens to be the most searched for actor in the world this year.

Freddie Mercury
The UAE’s fifth most googled personality is rock legend Freddie Mercury — most likely due to the release of hit film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Sonam Kapoor
The Bollywood actress rounds out the list of the UAE’s six most googled personalities and her headline-making nuptials in 2018 could be the reason.