Radio and television legislation

Radio and television legislation

The activities of SRG SSR are based on the Swiss Federal Constitution, the Radio and Television Act (RTVA), the Radio and Television Ordinance (RTVO), and the SRG SSR charter. 

Swiss Federal Constitution Article 93 of the Swiss Federal Constitution states that legislation on radio and television is a federal government matter. Radio and television should make a contribution to education and cultural development, free opinion-forming and entertainment. They must take the country’s particular characteristics and the needs of the cantons into consideration, present events factually and reflect the full diversity of views. The Constitution also guarantees the independence from state influence of radio and television, as well as their autonomy with regard to service content. In addition, the Constitution provides for an expert supervisory complaints board which is independent of both the authorities and parliament.

Radio and Television Act, Radio and Television Ordinance Among the aspects governed by the Radio and Television Act are SRG’s programming remit, how its services are to be distributed, how SRG is to be structured and how it is to be financed. The RTVA and RTVO state that SRG must be structured in a way that guarantees its autonomy and impartiality, that enables it to be cost-effectively managed and coordinated on a national level, that takes into account the concerns of the different language regions, that sees the audience represented within the organisation, and that ensures it can be managed in accordance with the principles of the law on public limited companies.

Anyone wishing to receive radio and television services must pay a licence fee, the level of which is determined by the Federal Council. In setting the licence fee, the Federal Council takes the following into account:

  • The funding needed for SRG services and its other news and information offerings
  • Support for the services covered by SRG’s charter
  • Tasks related to the actual levying of the licence fee, as well as the enforcement of reporting and payment
  • Support for the foundation for audience research
  • The construction of transmitter networks as new technologies are launched

The charter
The charter lays down in greater detail the remit which SRG must fulfil across all its radio and television schedules and other news and information services.

With its radio services, SRG offers:

  • Three stations in each of the German, French and Italian language regions
  • One Romansch-language station
  • One modified service for each of the German and French language regions (a modified service has the same underlying nature and content as the station on which it is based, but has a distinctive soundtrack)
  • One youth service for German-speaking Switzerland
  • One music station for classical music, one for jazz, and one for pop
  • One German-language news and current affairs station

With its television services, SRG offers:

  • Two HDTV channels in each of the German, French and Italian language regions
  • Programming for the Romansch-language region
  • One German-language repeats channel
  • One service in French, providing continuously updated information and schedule notes via the Internet
  • First-run internet programming covering political, economic, cultural and sporting events relevant to the language regions or the whole country.

SRG’s online services comprise:

  • Online content relating to programmes (direct, real-time and thematic reference to editorial programmes or parts of programmes) 

  • Online content not related to programmes in the form of text articles under the headings of News, Sport and Regional/Local (limited to a maximum of 1,000 characters per article)

  • Background and context information about programmes

  • Basic briefings in connection with educational programmes

  • Audience forums and games connected with specific programmes

  • A multilingual international online service (Swissinfo)

  • An online service for the Italian-speaking audience living close to the Swiss border (

The charter also states that SRG must contribute to the following with its radio and television services and other news and information offerings:

  • Free opinion-forming among its audience with comprehensive, varied and accurate information, in particular with regard to political, economic and social relations
  • Cultural development and the strengthening of the nation’s cultural heritage, as well as the promotion of the arts in Switzerland, paying particular attention to Swiss literature, Swiss music and Swiss film
  • Educating the audience, specifically by regularly broadcasting programmes with an educational content
  • Entertainment