|Broadcast radio, television and online
First air date
|30 September 1922 (radio)
20 July 1953 (television)
by Four language-specific broadcasters
|Digital cable (DVB-C), Internet streaming, IPTV, DTH satellite
SSG SSR radio stations
|Cable (DVB-C), FM, DAB+, IPTV, Internet
|30.3 and 37.90% (2013)
|Jean-Michel Cina, Chairman of the SRG Board of Directors
Gilles Marchand, Director-General
The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (German: Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft; French: Société suisse de radiodiffusion et télévision; Italian: Società svizzera di radiotelevisione; Romansh: Societad Svizra da Radio e Televisiun; SRG SSR) is the Swiss public broadcasting association, founded in 1931, the holding company of 24 radio and television channels. Headquartered in Bern, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation is a non-profit organisation, funded mainly through radio and television licence fees (79%) and making the remaining income from advertising and sponsorship.
Switzerland's system of direct democracy and the fact that the country has four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) mean that the structure of Swiss public service broadcasting is rather complicated. The actual holders of the broadcasting licences that enable SRG SSR to operate are four regional corporations:
These four corporations maintain SRG SSR as a joint central production and broadcasting association. The fifth business unit of the SRG SSR is the ten-language news platform Swissinfo.
The association's official name is Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft (SRG, formerly "Schweizerische Rundspruchgesellschaft") in German, Société suisse de radiodiffusion et télévision (SSR, formerly "Société suisse de radiodiffusion") in French, Società svizzera di radiotelevisione (SSR, formerly "Società svizzera di radiodiffusione") in Italian, and Societad svizra da radio e televisiun (SSR, formerly "Societad svizra da radio") in Romansh. The corporate name, SRG SSR, is derived from its initials in German and its initials in French, Italian and Romansh. In English, the organisation is known as the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The moniker "idée suisse" (French for 'Swiss idea'), which refers to the public service mission of the organisation, was adopted in 1999 and was removed from the name in 2010.
Europe's third public radio station started broadcasting from Lausanne in 1922, from the start based on a licence fee system. 980 licences were bought in 1923. Within a few years radio cooperatives working along the same principles had started throughout the country. In 1930 it was decided that radio was an important public service that should not be allowed to become a money maker for private interests, and that it needed to be structured on a federal basis. In 1931 SRG SSR was founded (see original names above), as a co-ordination organisation for the regional broadcast associations, and received the only licence to broadcast from the Federal Council. The same year it was agreed that all news reports in the new medium had to be provided by the Swiss news agency SDA, a decision that remained unchanged until 1971.
The first national transmitters began operating in 1931: Radio Sottens for French, Radio Beromünster for German, and 1933 Radio Monte Ceneri for Italian. In 1938 Romansh was recognised as the country's fourth national language, and the Zürich studios began broadcasting programmes in Romansh in between those in German. During the Second World War, SRG SSR filled an important function as a neutral, unbiased supplier of news, reaching far outside Switzerland's borders through shortwave transmissions. Radio Beromünster and Radio Monte Ceneri became known as the only free German and Italian-language radio stations in Europe.
In 1950, SRG SSR was one of 23 founding broadcasting organisations of the European Broadcasting Union. In 1939 television test transmissions started in Zürich. In 1953 regular TV transmissions started in German (from Zürich) – one hour per evening, five days a week. A year later, in 1954, French transmissions were broadcast from Geneva. For the Italian-speaking region, the programmes were re-transmitted with Italian subtitles until dedicated Italian studios were built in 1961.
In 1960, the company was renamed Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft (and the equivalent names in the other languages - see above) to reflect the addition of television services. In 1965, the Federal Council allowed television advertising, as a means of keeping licence fees down. In 1966, the three main language communities were each given a second radio channel, in order to counter the effects of new commercial broadcasters outside the country, whose strong signals were reaching the Swiss population. In the same year, a dedicated Romansh broadcasting unit was created in Chur, using some of the new German-language second channel's broadcasting time. In 1968, colour television was introduced.
In 1978, the radio channels started stereo transmissions. In 1983, the Federal Council relaxed the Swiss media legislation to permit local private and commercial radio channels. SRG SSR countered this threat by launching its third set of channels, aimed at a younger audience. In 1991, SRG SSR underwent a wide-ranging restructuring. The enterprise organised itself as a private industry association, structured as a holding company under Swiss company law. The name, SRG SSR idée suisse, was introduced in 1999. In 1992, Radio Rumantsch was separated from the German-language radio broadcaster that had housed the Romansh broadcasting activities since 1938, and in 1995, the Romansh TV activities were moved over as well and the Romansh company renamed itself Radio e Televisiun Rumantscha.
In 1997, SRG SSR started digital broadcasts via the Hot Bird (13 degrees East) satellite. It is encrypted from satellite due to copyright restrictions. SRG SSR Sat Access information channel stopped broadcasting in 2005. Since 2016, all channels have been broadcasting via satellite only in HD quality. All radio and SRF info TV channels are free-to-air via satellite.
On 3 June 2019, SRG SSR terminated digital terrestrial (DVB-T) broadcasts of all of its television channels due to the extremely low usage of digital terrestrial signals on television sets in Switzerland, which was part of a series of cost-saving measures partly brought about as a result of the 2018 "No Billag" popular initiative. Since then, reception of SRG SSR television channels is only possible mainly through digital cable, Internet streaming, IPTV and DTH satellite.
SRG SSR is headquartered in Bern. It is governed by an Executive Board, appointed by a central council consisting of representatives of the four organisations.
Broadcasting is handled by five business units:
In addition, there are two subsidiary companies which produce for example the teletext pages.
HD suisse was the first high-definition television channel of the SRG SSR. Programming came from the four language networks of SRG SSR.
SRG SSR is free to watch all television channels on the internet. However, it cannot be watched outside Switzerland due to broadcasting rights on all television channels. All radio broadcasts are listened to outside Switzerland.
Main article: Swissinfo
The former abbreviation SRI originally stood only for "Swiss Radio International", which was SRG SSR's international broadcasting arm (1935–2004), aimed at expatriates and others interested in Switzerland. In October 2004, SRI ceased broadcasting on shortwave and satellite, and instead concentrated its efforts on its multimedia internet platform swissinfo.ch, which now takes most of the resources. The Swissinfo website is produced in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Japanese.
Swiss Satellite Radio(SSatR) is a radio company owned by SRG SSR that includes three stations: Radio Swiss Pop (pop music); Radio Swiss Jazz (jazz, soul and blues) and Radio Swiss Classic (classical music) all without interruptions. These stations have been on air since 1 September 1998.