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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
The press in Switzerland
Swiss press graphic

The story of the Swiss press scene over the past twenty years is one of ever-increasing concentration as more and more local and regional titles have closed or been taken over by larger competitors.

This development came to a head between 1995 and 1998, when around 18% of existing papers disappeared from the market.

Official statistics show there are now around 80 dailies, but only a tiny handful enjoy national distribution because four separate languages - German, French, Italian and Romansch - are spoken in Switzerland.

Slightly declining circulations and a general economic downturn in the country are also factors in the equation. Swiss papers depend on advertising for around three-quarters of their revenue, but the number of pages of adverts inserted in the press is on a downward spiral - 15.8% fewer pages in 2002 compared with 2001, for example.

The established Swiss press has also had to cope with two further challenges. The advent of free sheets such as 20 Minuten, given away to commuters at railway stations, has further decreased available advertising revenue.

A surge in internet use over the past few years is also beginning to chip away at the prominence of the press as a news and entertainment medium. Only the Sunday papers seem to be bucking this trend.

Newspaper readership in Switzerland remains at a relatively high level in comparison with other European countries, with 376 copies sold for every 1,000 people. Two-thirds of Swiss newspapers are printed in German, with around 25% in French, 5% in Italian, and fewer than 2% in Romansch.

The market is open to products from Switzerland's neighbours, and German, French and Italian dailies are displayed alongside their Swiss counterparts. These imports sell many tens of thousands of copies each day.

Main papers


Based: Zurich
Founded: 1959
Circulation: 275,000
Owner: Ringier

The German-language Blick has the largest circulation in Switzerland. It offers the usual tabloid-style mix of news, entertainment, crime, consumerism and sex, and has a separate sport section. Blick has traditionally been printed in broadsheet format, but in May 2004 it began a pilot project of publishing in a smaller format in order to test reader reaction before a final decision on size is taken. The paper prides itself on offering an "up-to-date" view of events and says it is "informative, entertaining and colourful".

Neue Zuercher Zeitung

Based: Zurich
Founded: 1780
Circulation: 159,000
Owner: NZZ AG

Switzerland's foremost quality paper, the liberal NZZ is five years older than the Times of London. Its format and appearance underline this sense of tradition. The use of black-and-white photographs is sparing, the banner is printed in old-fashioned German script, and the text is serious and dense. The NZZ sells nearly 20,000 copies a day abroad; in 2002 it also launched a Sunday edition, which sells around 90,000 copies. The paper says its readers are well-educated and tend to be of the "progressive, leader" type rather than "conservative followers".


Based: Zurich
Founded: 1893
Circulation: 237,000
Owner: Tamedia AG
The Tages-Anzeiger says it is "politically and economically independent", a paper which not only provides information, but which also "stimulates with its reports and commentaries". Its layout has a much more modern feel to it than the NZZ. Most of its 560,000 readers live in Zurich, and the paper styles itself as the most popular paper in that area. As with most other Swiss papers, the Tages-Anzeiger is heavily dependent on subscriptions, with only 10% of copies being sold at news-stands.

Tribune de Geneve

Based: Geneva
Founded: 1879
Circulation: 73,000
Owner: Edipresse
The biggest-selling French-language daily in Switzerland. It was founded by a rich American, James T. Bates, who had settled in Geneva with his Swiss wife. The paper stood out from its rivals by introducing innovations such as an occasional magazine and publishing news from beyond the immediate locality. This mix is still apparent today, with news from Geneva and Switzerland in the foreground of the paper's journalism.

Le Temps

Based: Geneva
Founded: 1998
Circulation: 49,000
Owner: Edipresse/Ringier
Le Temps was formed through a merger of the "Journal de Geneve" and "Le Nouveau Quotidien". The paper's journalism concentrates on international as well as national news. Its layout has a modern feel, with liberal use of graphics, colour and black-and-white photographs. The paper says its journalism is characterised by "rigour, competence and plurality of opinion" and that its readers are mainly "active professionals with high spending power".

Corriere del Ticino

Based: Muzzano, near Lugano
Founded: 1891
Circulation: 40,000
Owner: CdT
Corriere del Ticino is the biggest-selling Italian-language paper in Switzerland, based in the southern canton of Ticino near the border with Italy. It says it is motivated by an "active enthusiasm for information and communication". The paper is part of a multimedia group which also has interests in television.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


Country profile: Switzerland
02 Jan 04 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Switzerland
20 Mar 04 |  Country profiles

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