Search for contacts, projects,
courses and publications

Swiss Media System


Porlezza C.

Course director


The structures and current trends of the Swiss media landscape have not emerged arbitrarily, they are a consequence of media policy action. The goal of the module is to analyze the Swiss media system from a media-historical perspective, and to advance the students’ understanding of how the Swiss media system is structured and how it impacts upon contemporary media and journalistic practice. All lectures are accompanied by exercises on current cases and issues, and the students are expected to contribute to the course with their own presentations. The course specifically addresses the following topics:

  • The main features of the Swiss media system in terms of its market size and typology as well as its cultural references compared to other European (Anglo-Saxon and Mediterranean) media systems.
  • The historic development of the press in Switzerland: The emergence of the press and the issues related to censorship under the Ancien Régime; the slow emancipation from the political system and the implementation of press freedom; the development of the “Forum Press”, the tabloids as well as the growth of the free press.
  • The current issues of the press revolving around commercialization, the social and economic platformization due to digital intermediaries, as well as a growing politicization and polarization.
  • The history and the organizational structure of the public service media SRG SSR and the concept of service public.
  • The end of the monopoly of the SRG SSR and the development of private broadcasting in Switzerland, from the early radio “Pirates” operating from Italy to the liberalization of the broadcasting sector.
  • The impact of media policy and regulation on the structure of the press, the broadcasting sector and the Internet in Switzerland. In addition, the course discusses current media policy debates evolving around the regulation and the financing of the public service broadcaster and of journalism in general, as suggested, for instance, by the Federal Media Commission FMEC.
  • Established and innovative accountability systems in Switzerland that influence and enforce the ethical standards, norms and values in the Swiss media landscape.
  • The impact of the Web on the Swiss media landscape particularly with regard to changing patterns of news consumption, and its potential for digital journalism start-ups.