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SRG SSR sees culture as integral to its radio and television programming and also contributes to Swiss cultural life through subsidies and event partnerships.
The Concession states that SRG SSR’s radio and television programmes and other media offerings should contribute to cultural development and strengthening Switzerland’s cultural heritage, with a particular focus on Swiss literature, music and film. For SRG SSR, however, culture is more than just a duty imposed on it – it plays a proactive role in cultural events across a broad front extending way beyond the scope of its radio and television programming.
Culture in radio and television
SRG SSR brings culture to its audience on a daily basis through its 18 radio stations and seven television channels. In radio, the second stations in particular – SRF 2 Kultur in German-speaking Switzerland, Espace 2 in French-speaking Switzerland and Rete Due in Italian-speaking Switzerland – give special attention to cultural reporting with background programmes on music, film and literature.
The share of cultural programme content on the radio was around 8% in 2012, although it must be borne in mind that actual music broadcasts are not included in this figure. By way of comparison, news and current affairs is the most important subject area, having accounted for around 14% of radio airtime in 2012.
SRG SSR also devotes a respectable share of airtime to culture in television with special programmes that are firm fixtures in its weekly schedules. Special mention must be reserved here for unique television productions such as La Traviata at Zurich’s main railway station (2008), La Bohème amid apartment blocks in Berne (2009) and Aida am Rhein (2010), which turned culture into must-see television. The national television series “PHOTOsuisse”, “LiteraTour de Suisse” and “ArchitecTour de Suisse”, meanwhile, showed culture from a variety of different angles on SRG SSR channels.
The share of cultural programme content on television in 2012 was 12%. By way of comparison, news and current affairs is the most important subject area, accounting for around 32% of television airtime in 2012.
Pure music radio
Most of SRG SSR’s radio stations feature a mix of spoken word and music. SRF 4 News, in fact, is a 24-hour spoken-word station. At the same time, however, SRG SSR also provides pure music radio stations and music platforms, which serve in part to promote and raise the profile of Swiss music:
- Swiss Satellite Radio 2012: Radio Swiss Classic: 153,000 listeners a day / Radio Swiss Jazz: 79,000 listeners a day / Radio Swiss Pop: 313,000 listeners a day
- www.mx3.ch: The Swiss Music Portal is a joint platform of SRF 3, SRF Virus, Couleur 3, Rete Tre and Radio Rumantsch. It allows musicians to present their work to the general public, and some is chosen to be broadcast on the aforementioned radio stations. 2012, music from around 20,000 bands was available on the platform.
- www.vxm.ch: The Swiss Folk Music Portal, a joint venture of SRF Musikwelle, La Première, Rete Uno and Radio Rumantsch, is a platform that brings together musicians, experts, fans, promoters and clubs in the world of folk music. In 2012, music from arond 1200 groups was available on the platform.
Film is an excellent means of conveying cultural and linguistic diversity, which is why promoting film is a cornerstone of SRG SSR’s cultural activities. It created the Pacte de l’audiovisuel in 1996 together with partners from the film industry. From 1997 to 2012, it invested over CHF 300 million in promoting film under the pact. The 2013 figure is CHF 22.3 million. Over 2,000 cinema, television, documentary, short and animated films have been released in the past 16 years thanks to the pact. Over the last 5 years, the SRG SSR television companies have coproduced 727 films.
SRG SSR supports the following key Swiss film festivals in various genres through its media partnerships:
- Solothurn Film Festival (January)
- Swiss Film Prize (March)
- Visions du Réel, Nyon (April)
- Locarno International Film Festival (August)
- Festival Tous Écrans, Geneva (November)
- Short Film Festival Winterthur (November)
Music is to radio what film is to television. As with film, SRG SSR set down its collaboration with representatives of the music industry in 2004 in the Swiss Music Charter, which has the aim of promoting the image of Swiss music as well as the country’s talented musicians. Under the Charter, SRG SSR is committed to including a fair share of Swiss music productions in its radio programmes. Swiss music is defined as recorded or live music featuring Swiss composers, performers or producers as well as recordings with a significant Swiss involvement. SRG SSR’s partners set guideline figures annually for the presence of Swiss music in programming. In recent years, SRG SSR has not only met these yardsticks but in fact exceeded most of them.
Every two years, the Label Suisse music festival takes place in Lausanne under the aegis of Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS). The festival, first held in 2004, serves to promote Swiss music. RTS has also organised the biennial Schubertiade since 1980, a major classical music festival held at different locations in French-speaking Switzerland.
SRG SSR additionally promotes pop, rock, jazz and classical music with concerts and events. There are more than 50 music-oriented media partnerships for this purpose, including the Swiss Music Award, Zoogä-n-am Boogä, Cully Jazz, Musikantenstadl, the Festa da chant districtuala (Regional Song Festival), the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Menuhin Festival Gstaad, Open Air Lumnezia, Alpentöne, etc.
- Radio and television: SRG SSR regularly promotes literature in its radio and television programming, for example with programmes such as "BuchZeichen", "Lesung im Zwei" or "Literaturclub" (SRF), "Entre les lignes", "La librairie francophone", "Dernier rêve avant la nuit" or "Lire délire" (RTS), "Geronimo Letteratura", "Dimmi Come Leggi" or "Blu Come un’Arancia" (RSI) as well as "Magazin da cultura" and "Marella" (RTR). Programmes like these, together with radio plays and readings, encourage people to read and also have a positive effect on Swiss book sales.
- Solothurn Literary Days: As part of a media partnership, SRG SSR has supported the Solothurn Literary Days – the most important forum for Swiss literature – since autumn 2007.
- World Book and Copyright Day: This annual fixture aims to raise public awareness of books as a part of our cultural heritage and to promote reading. The day has been celebrated in Switzerland since 2005 with over 500 events in libraries, bookshops and public places. The slogan for World Book and Copyright Day, sponsored by SRG SSR and organised by the Swiss Book Lobby is «Switzerland reads. What about you?»
- Salon du livre: Since 1985 RTS awards the the "Prix du public" (formerly "Prix des Auditeurs") and since 2005 the "Prix RTS literature Ados" – the only prize for Swiss literature aimed primarily at the 14-16 age group – at the Salon du livre book fair.