The initiative of 4 March to abolish the fees for radio and television in Switzerland not only endangers the coverage of cycling in general, but also the survival of the Tour de Suisse.
With its radio and television programmes, SRG covers Switzerland’s wide range of sports. It contributes to anchoring sport in society and also offers a platform for sports with little media presence. The financing of fees makes this offer in free-access television unique in Europe. Such diversity across the country and in four languages would not be profitable for private operators. One consequence of accepting the no-billag initiative would be an expensive payment offer, as we know it from many other countries – reduced to the most popular sports that can be profitably commercialised.
With the Tour de Suisse, SRG produces the broadcast of the most important cycling event in Switzerland. The Tour de Suisse is also SRF’s largest annually recurring live production. During nine days, more than 70 people, ten cameras, 4 motorcycles, two helicopters and an airplane will be in action to produce attractive pictures. More than 1500 kilometres are covered and the infrastructure is rebuilt and dismantled every day. In Switzerland, RSI, RTR, RTS and SRF report on the Tour de Suisse in all four national languages. The images are used by television stations all over the world. Since less than 10% of full costs can be refinanced by commercial income, the Tour de Suisse already bears around 50% of production costs itself. No private supplier would be prepared to bear the other half of the very high production costs.
No TV presence would not only mean less distribution and less attention, but also a directly related collapse in revenues from advertising and sponsorship. Without the live broadcast and the associated relevance to the general public, it would also be much more difficult for the organisers to obtain the necessary route approvals for such a race. A yes to NoBillag would thus indirectly make it impossible to carry out the Tour de Suisse.
The positive significance of an international sporting event such as the Tour de Suisse cannot be overstated; major sporting events such as the Tour de Suisse arouse emotions, create identity and connect beyond individual parts of the country. With the Tour de Suisse, the spectator explores the diversity of our country, our language regions and landscapes. In addition to the direct international transmission of the Tour de Suisse to around 100 countries, a postcard image of Switzerland will be carried around the world.
The SRG provides an important platform for cycling with little media presence. Swiss sport needs strong radio and television supported by public funds. A no to the no-billag initiative is a yes for Swiss sport.