SRG from 1931 to date

SRG from 1931 to date

First broadcasting desk in Lausanne (1922 to 1923). Picture: GD ZAR

1922 Europe's third public radio station starts broadcasting from Lausanne. Radio cooperatives are set up throughout Switzerland in the 1920s. In 1923, 980 radio reception licences are purchased. Radio can only be listened to through headphones until 1926.

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1930 Several far-reaching decisions about national radio policy are taken. Radio is to be structured on a federal basis and not left to the mercy of market forces.

Foundation of SRG SSR (1931) at Bern casino. L-R: Arnold Rothenberger, Hermann Gwalter, Maurice Rambert, Charles Baud, Hans Zickendraht, Hans Lauterburg, Roger Olivet, Francesco Borella, Alois Muri, Max Ritter.
Gründung der SRG SSR (1931) im Casino in Bern.

1931 The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (Schweizerische Rundspruchgesellschaft SRG) is founded, bringing all the regional radio organisations together in a common structure. The first Director General is Maurice Rambert. The SRG's head office has little power, however, as this lies in the hands of the member companies.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation receives the only licence to broadcast radio in Switzerland from the Federal Council. News reports may be obtained only from the Schweizerische Depeschenagentur (SDA). 150,000 radio reception licences are purchased.

Maurice Rambert, first Director General of SRG SSR (to 1936).

The first national German, French and Italian-language transmitters go on stream in the 1930s: Sottens in March 1931, Beromünster in May 1931 and Monte Ceneri in October 1933.

Alfred W. Glogg, Director General of SRG SSR to 1950.

1936 Alfred W. Glogg becomes Director General of SRG.

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1937 The new SRG charter comes into effect. The first reorganization results in a more centralised SRG.

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1938 Romansch is recognized by the Swiss electorate as the country's fourth national language. The Zurich radio studios increasingly broadcast Romansch programming.

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1939 The Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich presents television to the Swiss public for the first time at the National Exhibition. The SRG engages a theatre company, whose play is filmed by a camera and transmitted to a television screen.

Radio studios in Bern, military guard during World War II, ca. 1940. Picture: GD ZAR

1939 to 1945 During the Second World War, Swiss radio takes on a key political function. With its programming, SRG supports the "intellectual defence of the nation" by presenting Switzerland consistently as a culturally diverse and determined nation. Its broadcasts on the political and military situation are heard not only in Switzerland but also – on short wave – throughout the world. Switzerland's national broadcasters are valued as the voice of neutrality. 590,000 radio licences are purchased.

From 1943, Romansch programmes are broadcast regularly on the first Friday of each month.

Radio Suisse Romande at the start of the Tour de Suisse, 1939. Picture: GD ZAR

1949 Radio licences in Switzerland reach the million mark.

Marcel Bezençon, Director General of SRG SSR to 1972.

1950 Marcel Bezençon is appointed Director General of SRG.

Woman with transistor radio, 1951.

The 1950s see a gradual increase in the popularity of the transistor radio. Radio listening becomes a mobile day-to-day activity. More and more foreign and domestic stations can be picked up, and SRG radio stations introduce their second services. The 1950s bring also the age of television to Switzerland, with pilot broadcasts in Lausanne, Basel and Zurich.

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1952 The SRG takes over Telefonrundspruch (a radio service broadcast through the telephone network) from the Swiss Post Office.

Sports broadcasting in the 1950s. Picture: GD ZAR

1953 The SRG begins an official pilot television service: The Bellerive studio in Zurich broadcasts a programme of about an hour on five evenings a week. 1.2 million radio and 920 television licences are purchased.

Eurovision logo.

1954 Eight European television stations establish Eurovision, the organization for international programming exchange. SRG plays a key role in the new body.

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1957 The Federal Council grants SRG a television broadcasting charter which enters into effect on 1 January 1958.

Cameras in preparation for the broadcast of the Montreux Narcissus Festival (first Eurovision broadcast), 1954.

1958 SRG begins a regular television service with German and French-language programming broadcast from Zurich and Geneva. In the Ticino, the programmes are broadcast with Italian commentaries. 1.3 million radio and 50,000 television licences are purchased.

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1960 The "Schweizerische Rundspruchgesellschaft" is renamed the "Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft", but the SRG abbreviation remains.

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1961 Ticino gains a temporary television studio.

TV studio prior to 1965.

1963 The first television programme is broadcast in Romansch.

TV coverage of the 1964 Lauberhorn race. Picture: GD ZAR

1964 The SRG receives a new charter from the Federal Council – the first for radio and television simultaneously. SRG restructures and adapts its statutes.

The Federal Council authorises the launch of television advertising. The first TV commercial is aired on 1 February 1965 at a cost of 6000 Swiss francs per minute. "AG für das Werbefernsehen" is founded to handle television advertising.

Picture and sound production at the TV centre within the Federal Parliament building.

1965 Inauguration of the radio and TV studio at the Federal Parliament.

Boy in front of radio and television sets. Picture: GD ZAR

1966 A dedicated programming unit is set up in Chur to produce Romansch programmes. These are broadcast on the second Radio DRS station.

It is stipulated that the second radio stations should meet "high standards with regard to music, entertainment and information".

Presenters of the inaugural colour broadcast on Swiss television, 1968.

1968 There is a significant increase in television licence-holders in what are politically turbulent times. The millionth television licence is purchased in December. The figure for radio is 1.8 million licences.

SRG officially launches colour television and the start of systematic radio and television audience research.

First moon landing; presenter Bruno Stanek with a model of the Apollo spacecraft, 1969.

1969 In the early morning of 21 July, around a million people in Switzerland watch live television coverage of the first moon landing.

The main studio at Leutschenbach.

In the 1970s, new television studios open in Zurich, Geneva and Comano.

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1971 marks the end of an era as SDA ceases to produce radio news bulletins after over 40 years. SRG alone is now responsible for news broadcasts. Radio svizzera di lingua italiana continues to source its news from the SDA up to the end of 1975.

Stelio Molo, Director General of SRG SSR to 1981.

1972 Stelio Molo becomes Director General. From 1972 onwards, Romansch-language programming occupies a growing proportion of Schweizer Fernsehen DRS schedules.

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1975 The Televisiun Rumantscha division is created.

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By 1978 25 years after the first TV broadcast on 20 July 1953, the number of TV licences has risen to 1.9 million. Stereo broadcasts phased in for radio programmes.

Leo Schürmann, Director General of SRG SSR to 1987.

1981 Leo Schürmann becomes Director General of SRG. 2.3 million radio and 2 million television licences are purchased.

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1983 The Federal Council relaxes Swiss media legislation to permit local private and commercial radio stations. SRG launches its third chain of stations, aimed at a young audience: DRS 3 in German-speaking Switzerland, Couleur 3 in French-speaking Switzerland and Rete 3 in Italian-speaking Switzerland.

Teletext pilot, 1981.

1984 Teletext begins on the German-language channel, with the service extended to Télévision Suisse Romande in 1985 and Televisione svizzera di lingua italiana in 1986. SRG, the German ZDF and the Austrian ORF set up their satellite TV joint venture, 3sat.

Leo Schürmann hands over office to Antonio Riva.

1987 Antonio Riva becomes Director General of SRG.

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1990 The World Wide Web (www) is developed in Geneva. 1993 marks the birth of the new Internet medium as we know it today, although its origins date back to a system used by the US Army in the 1960s.

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1991 The SRG undergoes wide-ranging restructuring. The enterprise organises itself as a private industry association, structured as a holding company under Swiss company law. In 1992, the new statutes come into force and structural reform is complete.

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1992 The new Federal Radio and Television Act enters into force. SRG's cultural mandate is laid down in law and in its charter. Radio Rumantsch becomes an independent enterprise unit as part of the SRG reorganization.

Schweiz – Suisse – Svizzera – Svizra 4.

1993 The fourth chain of TV channels is launched under the name S Plus. It goes national in 1995 as Schweiz – Suisse – Svizzera – Svizra 4.

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1994 The fourth Radio Suisse Romande station goes on air: Option Musique, "La chaîne de la chanson".

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1995 Televisiun Rumantscha becomes independent of Schweizer Fernsehen DRS. The enterprise unit for Romansch programming now encompasses both radio and television: Radio e Televisiun Rumantscha.

Armin Walpen, Director General of SRG SSR idée suisse.

1996 Armin Walpen becomes Director General of SRG. Radio DRS launches Musigwälle 531, specialising in folk and entertainment music, to supplement DRS 1.

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1997 The fourth television channel is replaced by second channels for each language region: SF zwei, TSR 2 and TSI 2. Telefonrundspruch ceases broadcasting and is replaced by a satellite channel.

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1999 SRG changes its name to SRG SSR idée suisse. "Idée suisse" no longer stands for special one-off programmes, but has become the seal of quality on SRG SSR's public service broadcasting.

SRG SSR idée suisse begins to digitise its radio services (Digital Audio Broadcasting, DAB). Rollout begins with German and French-speaking Switzerland. DAB should be available nationwide by 2009.

SF DRS joins forces with Presse TV to operate SFinfo, which repeats news and current affairs programming. It is piloted in the Zurich area.

In the shape of, Swiss Radio International sets up an internet platform offering global access to SRG SSR services and information about Switzerland.

Virus, Schweizer Radio DRS's youth station, goes on air as Switzerland's first fully digital radio service.

At the end of 2000 radio and TV licences are purchased in equal numbers – 2.7 million – for the first time.

The Swissinfo/SRI building in Bern

2001 An amendment to the Corporation's charter allows the SFinfo repeats channel to be broadcast nationally.

Swiss Radio International (SRI) increasingly becomes a multimedia company and continues to expand its multimedia platform. SRI begins to phase out short-wave broadcasting and operates under its product name: Swissinfo.

Monolith at Expo.02 with idée suisse boat.

2002 SRG SSR idée suisse commits itself to sponsoring Expo.02. It features the Swiss national exhibition heavily on all seven of its TV channels, on 14 of its 18 radio stations and on its websites.

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2003 SRG SSR idée suisse begins to digitise wireless terrestrial television broadcasting (Digital Video Broadcasting, DVB-T). The Engadine and Ticino are the first regions to benefit from the new technology. Nationwide coverage is scheduled for 2008.

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2004 Swissinfo/Swiss Radio International (SRI) shuts down its short-wave and satellite radio services. From now on, it offers information on Switzerland via its internet platform only.

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chron SF 2005

2005 The DRS music station Musigwälle 531, which broadcasts traditional Swiss music of all types, is renamed DRS Musigwälle. The station also receives core news and current affairs feeds from DRS 1 for the first time.

Schweizer Fernsehen DRS is renamed Schweizer Fernsehen (SF).

2006 SRG SSR celebrates its 75th anniversary (24 February).

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2007 The new Federal Radio and Television Act (RTVA) and its new implementing ordinance (RTVO) enter into force on 1 April. The greatest changes concern fee splitting (a percentage of the licence fee will now go to private radio and TV stations), the new obligation to broadcast television programmes in a format appropriate for the visually and hearing impaired (subtitles, sign language and audio description), and a ban on advertising and sponsorship in online services.

Both DRS 4 News and World Radio Switzerland (WRS) go on air in November, and 3 December sees the start of HD suisse, one of the first public service stations in Europe to broadcast in high-definition standard.

A folk festival marked the closure of the Beromünster transmitter.

2008  The switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television is completed successfully. From February onwards, terrestrial broadcasts of SRG SSR television channels are in digital format only.

As the official rights-holder for UEFA EURO 2008™, SRG SSR reports live on all 31 matches during the largest sporting event that has ever taken place in Switzerland.

Some 77 years after its was commissioned, the Beromünster medium-wave transmitter is switched off.


2009 The SRG SSR idée suisse Delegates' Meeting approves the revision of the SRG SSR statutes. As a result, from 2010 SRG SSR will have a single strategic management team, in the form of the SRG SSR Board of Directors, and the Director General will take the operational lead throughout the enterprise.


The national transmitter at Sottens

2010 sees the launch of the new Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) Enterprise Unit as a result of the reorganization of Radio Suisse Romande (RSR) and Télévision Suisse Romande (TSR) to bring all programming for French-speaking Switzerland under one roof

The national transmitter at Sottens is finally switched off. The transmitter's decommissioning is marked by open days which attract thousands of nostalgic visitors.

Roger de Weck, Generaldirektor SRG

2011 Roger de Weck becomes Director General of SRG. The new year marks also the launch in German-speaking Switzerland of the new Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen Enterprise Unit (SRF), created by amalgamating Schweizer Radio DRS (SR DRS) and Schweizer Fernsehen (SF).


SRG's pilot high-definition TV channel, HD suisse, goes off air on the stroke of midnight on 31 January 2012.

SRG begins broadcasting six of its seven regular TV channels (all except SF info) in stunning high definition in parallel with the standard definition service. Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) launches its web platform and revamps its corporate image. TSR and RSR are replaced by the RTS brand.

DAB+ digital radio (Digital Audio Broadcasting) is proving extraordinarily popular in Switzerland – with July seeing the sale of the one millionth digital radio. This takes the audience to some 2.4 million, or just under a third of all Swiss households.

The Federal Council upholds the ban on advertising on SRG's websites, although the Enterprise is given greater scope for its online content.

2013: RTS and SRF launch the new interactive TV offering “SRF+” and “RTS+” – the first service of its kind in Switzerland.
The English-language World Radio Switzerland (WRS) is transferred into private ownership. It is taken over by Anglo Media SA.