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Swiss Media System


Porlezza C.

Course director


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 hand it has to deal with four official languages, the principle of direct democracy, and a complex and federalist political system.

In addition, the traditional structures of the Swiss media system are in a state of flux: the newspaper industry faces economic difficulties and suffers the transition to a digital media ecosystem. While the print industry is shaped by an increasing media concentration, the broadcasting sector is characterized by a dominant position of the public service broadcaster SRG SSR, which faces growing political pressure. In times of increasing disinformation and economic turmoil, policymakers and political practitioners are grappling with a wide range of issues surrounding digital media, which is why media policy debates become central as the media system needs to find solutions to ongoing challenges. The course tackles contemporary debates in news media as well as the social, economic, technological, and political constraints within which Swiss news media organizations operate.


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

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

  • name the specific characteristics of the Swiss media system,
  • explain the consequences of these peculiarities for the Swiss media market,
  • describe current developments in Switzerland as well as the drivers and the consequences of these trends,
  • and, finally, understand the impact of these trends on media policymaking.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

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

Students’ class attendance is strongly encouraged. Teachers will not provide alternative teaching materials for non-attending students.

Examination information

  • The students will have to carry out an in-class presentation in the course's last session(s) on current policy issues such as the public financing of news media and journalism. Students will need to develop specific propositions that could be transposed into law.
  • Secondly, there will be an oral exam that will consist of a set of open questions to be answered by the students. The date of the exam is to be determined.
  • The final mark for the course will be determined by the in-class presentation (30%) as well as the final exam (70%).
  • Both the presentation and the exam will be held in English.