Swiss vote on public TV fees watched elsewhere in Europe

18
Swiss vote on public TV fees watched elsewhere in Europe
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2018 photo a man passes by a sign asking to vote in the "No Billag" initiative in Fribourg, Switzerland. Swiss voters can decide in a referendum on March 4, 2018 on a proposal to stop the mandatory licence fee for services of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. (Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP)

BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Voters in Switzerland are getting ready to decide whether they should continue paying hundreds of francs every year for public television and other government-supported programming.

The Swiss referendum on the national TV fee Sunday is being closely watched elsewhere in Europe.

It was sponsored by free-market proponents and other critics of the state-imposed fees. They say residents shouldn’t have to pay for public broadcasting if they watch or listen to it.

Opponents of the “No Billag” vote — named for the company that collects the fees — argue that ensuring quality programming in an era of false news and media profits is in the public interest.

Polls last year suggested that most Swiss were ready to scrap the fees, but more recent surveys indicated about two-thirds of voters will reject the proposal.