swissinfo must not fall victim to government cost-cutting, say many high-profile Swiss around the world in a petition to save the multimedia Internet portal. Among the 1,500 people to have backed the petition so far are Walter Kälin, the United Nation’s representative for internally displaced persons, and Alfred Defago, Switzerland’s former ambassador to the United States.
The petition calls on the government and the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) to continue to contribute 50 per cent each to swissinfo’s funding. It argues that in 2009 Switzerland repeatedly came under international scrutiny and swissinfo plays a vital role in helping an international audience understand complex decisions made by the electorate, the complicated political context and conflicts of interest. It does this in nine languages.
In February the government confirmed funding for swissinfo would be cut as part of budget proposals for 2011-2013. The plans will have to be confirmed by the cabinet in June and would need to go before parliament. It is the second time in less than ten years that swissinfo.ch is facing potential financial cuts. Its budget was reduced to SFr26 million from SFr44 million and included job losses and the abolition of shortwave radio broadcasts.
(Source: swissinfo.ch and agencies)