A digital journey through the history of SRG

News 08.10.2020

SRG, the "Swiss Broadcasting Corporation", was founded almost 90 years ago. Since then, it has undergone many transformations and mastered major challenges. All these events have been compiled and added to "The SRG SSR timeline" on the SRG website (srgssr.ch). They are illustrated with images from the central archives of the General Management, which are well worth seeing.

Sixty years ago, the SRG was renamed "the Swiss Radio and Television Corporation" (see The SRG SSR timeline) but it kept its acronym 'SRG' from "Schweizerische Rundspruchgesellschaft" (Swiss Broadcasting Corporation). Since 1931, the three letters stand for federalism and unity in diversity, for offers in all national regions and for an independent 'service public' mandate in favour of a free opinion building. The SRG has always defended these principles in the midst of changing political, financial and technical conditions. Controversial introduction of television, crumbling advertising revenues, attempts to totally dismantle the SRG... the association, deeply anchored within society, had to tackle a good deal of challenges and seek adequate solutions. 

Together with Markus Drack, Andreas Steigmeier and François Vallotton, Theo Mäusli is one of the editors of the three volumes published between 2000 and 2012, in which historians have worked through SRG's history from its beginnings up to 2010. He works as an expert at the Development and offer directorate. For Theo Mäusli, SRG's history is marked by its close link to the history of Switzerland, alternating between centralisation and liberalisation until granting wider autonomy to its enterprise units.

Browsing by year or thematic area

The different events, whether major or minor, that have affected the media company are compiled and illustrated on the SRG website under the SRG SSR timeline. From the drop-down-menu, it is possible to search for events occurred during a specific year or for themes such as anecdotes, Director generals, media partnerships, organisation, politics, programme, broadcasting and technology. Irene Benz has selected the images within the central archives of the General Management. Head of SRG's image archives: "Images are more than just beautiful memories. They are important witnesses of passed times and, as such, very important sources for (cultural) historical considerations. They offer a complementary visual dimension in addition to written documents. In our digital and rather volatile world, physical collections are far from being redundant. As an important source and being technology-independent, they can be shown to a broader audience."

The history of SRG is reflected in its archives

The SRG's rich radio and television archives play a major role in regard to its history. The archives of the SRG contain more than two million hours of radio and tv programmes. The SRG opens this treasure to the public. This opening is based on five pillars. Each target audience has a different type of access, as described below:
1.    Access to archive contents via archive pages of the enterprise units
2.    Access to our radio and television content via players
3.    Access via interface for programmers and designers
4.    Access via terminals at cultural institutions, schools and universities
5.    Access via shared-content-platform for Swiss media companies

Yet simply writing the story isn't the end of it. Theo Mäusli: "Particularly during these last crisis months, we have seen how much the public appreciates the SRG's archives. The archive departments of the enterprise units show a lot of engagement, expertise and creativity to open millions of archive hours not yet published to different interest groups, in an attractive and above all accurate way."