Search for contacts, projects,
courses and publications

Swiss Media System


Porlezza C.

Course director


Course Objectives

The goal of the module is to advance the students’ understanding of how the Swiss media system is structured and how it impacts upon contemporary media and journalistic practice.

At the end of the course, students are able to:

  • ·name the specific features of the Swiss media system,
  • explain the consequences of these peculiarities for the Swiss media market,
  • describe current developments in Switzerland related to the different media types,
  • discuss the drivers as well as the consequences of these trends, particularly with regard to news media use,
  • have an informed discussion on polarization and disinformation in Swiss media,
  • enumerate current media policy debates,
  • and, finally, understand the different media regulations as well as the consequences of media policy decisions for specific media types.

Course Description

The Swiss media landscape is characterized by its strategic position in the heart of Europe and its cultural diversity: on the one hand it has to cope with bigger media markets of “next-door-giants” such as Italy, Germany and France; on the other it has also to deal with as many as four different official languages, the principle of direct democracy and a complex, federalist political system. In addition, the traditional structures of the Swiss media system are also in a state of flux: the newspaper industry faces economic difficulties and suffers the transition to a digital media ecosystem, as mobile technologies and new actors such as social media or digital journalism start-ups play an increasingly central role in the production, distribution and consumption of news and media content. While the print industry is shaped by intense competition and media concentration, the broadcasting sector is characterized by a dominant position of the public broadcaster SRG SSR. However, also in Switzerland the public service broadcaster faces increasing political pressure, which is why issues such as media regulation and the financing of the media are both part of current media policy debates. The course tackles therefore also contemporary debates in media and journalism as well as the economic, technological and political constraints within which Swiss media organizations operate.

The structures and current trends of the Swiss media landscape are analyzed from a media-historical perspective and as a consequence of media policy action.

Learning Methods

The course adopts a mix of ex-cathedra teaching, groupwork, interactive sessions, and student presentations.


Please, clearly state if students’ class attendance is requested. If so, indicate the minimum attendance to validate the course (by regulation, requested attendance may not exceed 80% of in-presence hours)

Examination Information

  • The students will have to carry out an in-class presentation in the last session of the course on an journalism startup project that fits the current Swiss media ecosystem. The project does not have to be implemented, but the feasibility of the project will have to be demonstrated along the lines of the criteria explained in the course.
  • The written exam will consist of a set of open questions to be answered by the students. There will be one mandatory question to be answered by all students, plus a set of question students can freely choose from. The date of the exam is to be determined.
  • The final mark for the course will be determined by the in-class presentation (20%) as well as the final exam (80%).

Required Material

  • Porlezza, C. (2020). Switzerland. In D. Merskin (ed.), The SAGE International Encyclopaedia of Mass Media and Society.
  • Puppis, M. (2009). Introduction. Media regulation in Small States. The International Communication Gazzette, 71(1-2), 7-17.
  • RISJ (2019). Digital News Report 2020: Switzerland. (pp. 84)
  • Dingerkus, F. et al. (2018). Journalists in Switzerland. Structures and Attitudes Revisited. Studies in Communication Sciences, 18(1), 117-129.
  • Fög (2019). Yearbook 2019 – The quality of the media. Basel: Schwabe. Summary.