Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

What or Who Regulates European Electronic Media?

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

What or Who Regulates European Electronic Media?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Obviously cultural barriers differ once borders are crossed. America has the FCC to keep the electronic media inline, but what about Europe? We'll discuss the individual media related efforts of thirteen European nations. By doing this we'll better understand the differences between America's and Europe's approach to media setup and policing. The countries selected for this study will include the following: Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, and Greece.

The information included on each country will be:

1. A quick history of the country

2. Information on each country's government and media

3. Cultural boundaries that may have to be crossed to successfully communicate with each nation

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland's origins date back to the 1200's when some cantons of the Holy Roman Empire joined together to form a federation This federation known as the Swiss Confederation was granted independence in 1648 and by 1815 set borders. Switzerland is a federal state that is made up of 28 cantons. The President rules both the country and the government with two legislative houses. Switzerland is a neutral country and hasn't been involved in a war since 1815.

Communicating with the Swiss is very easy to do as they have four official languages, French, Italian, German, and Romansch, but most business people in the cities speak English also (Morrison, 1994). About 65 percent of the country speaks German. Switzerland has enjoyed radio since the 1920's and some of the amateur radio stations eventually formed companies such as the Utilitas organization. Within five years, 1926, every privately owned station was available in five major cities by associations. The newspaper owners didn't like this because of the competition and succeeded in getting restrictions on the radio industry. The Swiss Broadcasting Company (SBC) is the parent company to nine of the local stations and companies. All of the media regulation is done by the Ministry of Transport and Energy, much like America's FCC. The SBC is a non-profit organization that receives funding through a licensing fee but held a monopoly (until 1983) on both the television and radio markets. Because Switzerland has only one regulating agency, they decide what is reported and are very influential. The SBC's programs must "uphold and develop the cultural values of the country and contribute to the spiritual, moral, religious, civic, and artistic development" of listeners and viewers. They "must serve the interest of the country, reinforce national union and solidarity, and aid international understanding." The majority of programming is news, religion, culture, and information, which fulfills the mandate described (Noam, 1991).

A problem the Swiss media, mainly television, has is it borders many countries. Why would you watch Swiss television that is comprised of religion and news, when you could just as easily watch something from a German station? This is becoming a problem for the SBC, and they are becoming second tier in their own country. Germany has many more resources when it comes to media, and the citizens of Switzerland know this and flock to their media. Broadcasting revenues, 75 percent, mostly come out of the tax the citizens pay when they buy their television sets. The rest of the revenue is from advertising which is the exact opposite of what we have in America. SBC's monopoly ended in 1983 with the legalization of private stations.

Switzerland had problems in broadcasting publicly because of the three languages spoken by a large portion of the country. The neighboring countries also made it difficult for them to compete. The citizen's needs for television resulted in cable TV sweeping the country because they could get the stations from other countries. Swiss Television seems like a difficult place to make a living. …

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