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Operating results 2015
SRG SSR generated less advertising revenue in 2015 owing to the Swiss franc shock. Immediate action to reduce expenditure succeeded in offsetting the resulting shortfall in income. Despite this, two extraordinary factors resulted in a deficit of 90 million Swiss francs for the year. One of these was the foreseeable reduction in the actuarial interest rate applied by the employee pension fund. The other was the Federal Supreme Court's ruling on value-added tax. A strict savings programme will take SRG back into the black from 2016 onwards.
2015 was an eventful one for SRG. The Swiss National Bank's shock decision to abandon the minimum exchange rate against the euro resulted in a sharp drop in advertising revenue. Immediate action on the cost side succeeded in offsetting this shortfall. In April, the Federal Supreme Court decided that licence fee payers would no longer have to pay the value-added tax on licence fees. This reduced the standard licence fee from 462 to 451 Swiss francs. Since then, SRG has had to pay the VAT from its own funds, which cut income by 27 million Swiss francs in 2015. The 1.7 percent growth in licence fee-paying households made up for only a small proportion of this drop. From 2016, the Federal Supreme Court ruling will cost SRG 35 million Swiss francs annually in lost licence fee revenue. SRG's income will also be impacted by the revised Radio and Television Act (RTVA), which provides that local and regional broadcasters will now receive up to six percent of total licence fee revenue, instead of four percent as at present. These private radio stations and television channels are to receive more funding when the Act enters into force in mid-2016, thereby reducing the share that goes to SRG. In view of the long-term implications of the effects described here, SRG has instituted a savings programme. The costs of the associated provisions, totalling 30.9 million Swiss francs, were charged to the annual financial statements for 2015.
Pension fund ‒ adjustment of actuarial interest rate
In view of the poor outlook for the capital market, it is likely that the SRG pension fund will have to reduce its actuarial interest rate. In 2013, when the pension fund switched from the defined benefit to the defined contribution system, SRG gave a five-year guarantee that it would finance the gap in pensioners' cover capital were the actuarial interest rate to be lowered. Given the current situation on the financial markets, this reduction is now probable, whereby the guarantee comes into effect. To meet the related expenses, SRG created a provision of 70 milllion Swiss francs in 2015.
Publisuisse transferred to new company
SRG has joined forces with Swisscom and Ringier to set up a joint venture to market advertising and sponsorship. This advertising platform was approved by the Competition Commission on 16 December 2015. On 29 February 2016, DETEC ruled that there were no obstacles to SRG's participation in the joint venture. The transfer of the Publisuisse subsidiary to the joint company generated investment income of 22.9 Swiss francs for the SRG parent company (excluding subsidiaries).
All in all, the parent company posted a loss of 90 million Swiss francs for the year.