The No Billag-Initiative will be the end for Radio LoRa, the oldest non-commercial radio station in Switzerland
Should the confederate popular initiative «No Billag» be accepted on March 4th 2018, Radio LoRa could not continue to exist in its current form and would have to terminate its services in January 2019.
The «No Billag»-initiative intends to implement into the constitution a strict ban on subsidies for radio and television. This amounts to a prohibition of any kind of public funding for the media in the future – starting from 1st January 2019. The result will be a complete privatisation of radio and television in Switzerland.
According to the initiative-text, the licences – i.e. broadcast rights – of all programmes that have been licence-fee financed up until today are going to expire in 2019. Henceforth, the licences are supposed to be auctioned of to the highest bidder.
The acceptance of the «No Billag»-initiative will not only concern the SRG/SSR as one of the largest employers of the region: 34 local programmes from all over Switzerland will cease to exist together with SRG/SSR – amongst them the complementary radio stations like Radio LoRa, pioneer of non-commercial radio broadcasting in Switzerland.
For Radio LoRa an abolition of public broadcasting licence fees means a loss of 70-80% of its revenues . With our restricted financial means, we will not be able to participate in the auction sale of licences/broadcast rights.
5 reasons to vote “No” on «No-Billag» from a Zurich perspective:
1) Say «No» to the «No-Billag»-initiative… because non-commercial radios ensure diversity.
The Union of Non-Commercial Local Radio Stations UNIKOM conjoins eighteen radio stations, amongst them Radio LoRa. The UNIKOM-radio stations offer a platform for programmes in 30 different languages, for non-mainstream music programmes, for local culture and coverage of local events. Furthermore, they report from the perspective of otherwise underrepresented social groups, they experiment with innovative radio formats and broadcast critical background reports.
At Radio LoRa in Zurich 300 radio broadcasters produce their own programmes in voluntary work and in 20 different languages. Radio Lora offers a media platform to minority voices: migrant communities,women and all those who are being marginalised on account of income, gender identity, or physical constraints.
Therewith, Radio Lora contributes to an open and pluralistic society.
2) Say «No» to the «No-Billag»-initiative… because it also means a loss of educational institutions.
Today, the non-commercial radio stations and their common radio school Klipp & Klang are valuable educational institutions for media producers. Since community radios provide low-threshold access and are organised bottom-up, they offer a first entry to work in the media to a lot of people. To produce a programme in non-commercial radio promotes media competence and gives practical insights into how independent media contribute to an open society – beyond the paradigm of market-orientated commercial media outlets.
Only with a public mandate can this educational task be maintained: only independent media can train independent journalists.
3) Say «No» to the «No-Billag»-initiative… because it deprives young local musicians of a platform.
With the acceptance of the initiative, young talents will lose an important platform for their music: Radio LoRa and other non-commercial radio stations are the first to play play young local music. Furthermore, independent electronic media outlets are often-times the only partners for clubs and small music festivals.
Especially the alternative music scene is about to lose a platform that promotes artistic work beyond the mainstream. The «No Billag»-initiative will be the end for alternative radio programmes like the «Indie-Block» which is very popular on several non-commercial stations. It offers a musical home for those who do not rank among the top-40-acts and without big advertising budgets to back them up.
4) Say «No» to the «No-Billag»-initiative… because it means serious harm to local film-makers.
With the acceptance of the initiative, local film-makers will lose the SRG/SSR as the most important partner that hitherto contributed to the success of Swiss film-making by offering financial support and know-how. In general, the initiative hurts film-makers because up to now a share of fee revenues were used to fund film projects. Zurich is proud of ist film scene with good reason – but the «No Billag»-initiative will pull the carpet from under its feet.
5) And last but not least: To reject «No-Billag»-Initiative is a matter of preventing the eradication of independent media.
Independent and diverse media are a core value of a solidarity-oriented society that ought to be defended. It is absolutely legitimate and necessary to discuss media politics and the public mandate. But one ought not forget that the free access to independent information and media are a fundamental democratic right.
A prohibition of public media equals a prohibition of postbus-service in the mountain valleys of Graubünden, a prohibition of the regional train service in Tösstal or the public open-air baths in Zurich – they all would not be able to operate on a cost-covering base – and are therefore reliant upon joint financing through society. So we all can all benefit from them.