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Population: 8.8 million
Internet penetration: 94%

In a country with four official languages, only a few larger media companies operate in more than one of Switzerland’s relatively small markets. The public broadcaster still has the most trusted news brands but could see substantial budget cuts. With audiences’ interest in news declining and willingness to pay for news stagnating, commercial media companies have announced more layoffs.

People’s interest in news has been declining, and the group of people with limited news repertoires, the so-called ‘news deprived’, has been on the rise, now making up roughly 40% of the adult population.1 Faced with stagnating levels of paying for online news (17% in 2024), commercial media companies juggle between saving costs and looking for revenue sources old and new. On the cost side, the bigger players, TX Group, CH Media, and Ringier, announced substantial layoffs in late 2023, affecting both advertising-based brands such as 20 Minuten and, as well as regional subscription-based brands such as Aargauer Zeitung. TX Group and CH Media continue to centralise news production across their brands, streamlining international and national news. On the revenue side, has implemented a (freemium) paywall, reporting that more than 10,000 subscribers are paying around 10 CHF (around $10 US) per month.

Publishers are pushing for a new law to make technology platforms pay copyright fees for link previews and news snippets, in line with other European countries. A draft law is likely to come before Parliament in 2024 and may well succeed.

In a process of consolidation, the biggest private media companies from Switzerland’s larger German-speaking region now own many news brands in the smaller markets, thus getting access to a larger nationwide advertising market. These include, for instance, TX Group with French-language 20 minutes or 24heures and Ringier and CH Media with recent spin-offs of and in French. By contrast, NZZ group, the publisher of the renowned Zurich-based NZZ newspaper, is focused on pursuing opportunities in the much larger neighbouring German market.

Finally, the public broadcaster SRG SSR, whose SRF and RTS brands continue to be the most used and most trusted brands, must provide programmes in all regions, and uses some of the licence fee revenues from the larger German-language market to subsidise the smaller language regions. The licence fee is contested and could be halved, after right-wing politicians from German-speaking Switzerland successfully launched a referendum, which might take place in 2026. At the moment, the federal government is testing the waters by inviting feedback on its counter-proposal to the referendum, which would result in a more limited reduction in the licence fee. Taking into account the licence fee reduction, together with shrinking advertising revenues and increasing inflation, SRG SSR fears that even the more moderate plan would effectively lead to a budget cut of roughly 15%.

This political debate might exacerbate existing tensions within the sector, with several private media companies claiming that the public broadcaster constitutes a threat in the television and the online markets. However, there are also some joint cooperation initiatives. SRG SSR is participating in ‘OneLog’, a joint industry project to provide users with a single login for online news content. The four largest private media companies are also currently working to extend ‘OneLog’ with ‘OneID’, a technology to better identify users across websites after the expected end of Google’s third-party cookies in 2024.

Digital journalism remains challenging and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Switzerland’s online sector is dominated by traditional players from print and broadcasting; only 20% of the 300+ online news media are online pure players. In order to reach fragmented audiences, more than six in ten online news media are active not only on Facebook and X but also on Instagram, and slightly less so on YouTube. TikTok has been adopted so far only by larger media brands.2

Artificial intelligence has become the talk of the day in the media industry. Anticipating a substantial transformation through generative AI, industry-wide guidelines have been formulated, and all big media companies have appointed heads of AI, created specialised AI departments, or launched processes to implement AI throughout the journalistic value chain. Audiences are sceptical towards AI-generated news. In a survey, people also indicated that they would not want to pay for AI-generated news, believing that the use of AI allows media companies to reduce costs.3 It seems that AI in journalism has not only highlighted the issue of trust but will also have economic ramifications.

Linards Udris and Mark Eisenegger
Research Center for the Public Sphere & Society (fög), Department of Communication and Media Research (IKMZ) / University of Zurich

Pay for online news


French-speaking: 18%

German-speaking: 16%

Listen to podcast in the last month


French-speaking: 34%

German-speaking: 36%


Trust in news overall



French-speaking: 40%

German-speaking: 42%

Overall trust levels tend to fluctuate but have declined slightly for three successive years, particularly in German-speaking Switzerland. Brands from the public broadcaster remain the most trusted in both German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland, followed by subscription-based newspaper brands. Less trust is placed in tabloids, digital-born brands, and news from email providers (Bluewin, MSN, Yahoo, gmx).

RSF World Press Freedom Index


Score 84.01

Measure of press freedom from NGO Reporters Without Borders based on expert assessment. More at


1 Fög – University of Zurich, Yearbook Quality of the Media, 2023. Schwabe.

2 L. Udris, Q. Ryffel, D. Vogler, Bericht: Pilotstudie Struktur der Onlinemedienangebote. Zürich: Forschungszentrum Öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft/UZH, 2023.

3 M. Eisenegger, D. Vogler, L. Udris, S.Fürst, ’How a Swiss audience poll revealed strong reservations about AI in news production’. 2023.

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