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COMPETITION

Public select potential Swiss national anthem

The Swiss could soon be singing a new anthem after the public voted online to choose the composition they would like to see replace the current one.

Public select potential Swiss national anthem
Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

The winning song – whose English translation is ‘Hoisted up there in the wind, our red and white flag’ – was composed by Werner Widmer from Zollikerberg, in the canton of Zurich.

It triumphed over two other finalists in an online vote whose outcome was announced on Saturday during SRF television show Potzmusig.

The final three were performed live by choirs as part of a national music festival in Aarau, in the canton of Aargau.

The result concludes the competition that was launched at the beginning of last year by the Swiss Society for Public Welfare, who wished to replace the current national anthem, known as the Swiss Psalm, which is often criticized for its overly religious lyrics.

The contest drew over 200 submissions, whittled down by a jury to a final seven, which were translated into all four national languages and recorded by a choir.

The public then voted online to choose the final three tunes, before the winner was selected by a further online vote.

Under the rules of the competition, lyricists were required to take inspiration from the preamble to Switzerland's updated constitution — approved by the public in a 1999 referendum — which refers to freedom, democracy, solidarity, openness to the world and responsibility towards future generations.

As for the tune, many of the entries – including the winning composition – drew on the melody of the current anthem which, unlike its lyrics, is considered beautiful.

Composed by Alberik Zwyssig back in 1841, the so-called Swiss Psalm is likened by critics to a weather forecast crossed with a religious hymn, given its repeated references to God and alpine vistas.

The song has only been the country's official anthem since 1981, when it replaced another anthem set, rather confusingly, to the tune of Britain's God Save The Queen.

Speaking to AFP when the competition was launched, Pierre Kohler, president of the jury, said of the current anthem: “Nobody knows the words! Anyone who tells you they do is a liar. Or else we manage the first few and afterwards we go 'la, la, la'.”

“We don't take issue with the tune, which is quite beautiful,” said Jean-Daniel Gerber, chairman of the Swiss Society for Public Welfare.

“The problem is the lyrics. The author had in mind a psalm, not a national anthem. As a psalm, you have to admit that it's very good. We have no qualms with it as a psalm, just as an anthem.”

Although Werner Widmer’s new composition has the public’s support, it will ultimately be up to the federal government to decide if it should replace the Swiss Psalm as the new Swiss national anthem – or indeed if Switzerland needs a new anthem at all.

Watch the winning entry performed here.

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COMPETITION

Swisscom fined millions for dominating sports TV

Switzerland's main telecomms group Swisscom has been fined 71.8 million Swiss francs ($72.5 million, 64.70 million euros) for abusing its dominant position in sports broadcasting, the Swiss competition authorities said on Tuesday.

Swisscom fined millions for dominating sports TV
Photo: Swisscom

The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) said Swisscom had gained a “dominant position in live broadcasting of games of Swiss football and ice hockey championships as well as of certain foreign football leagues on pay TV.”
   
This was mainly because one of its subsidiaries, Cinetrade, owns exclusive rights regarding the broadcast of sports content on Swiss pay TV, COMCO said.
   
“Swisscom has abused this dominant position in several respects,” it said, pointing out that the company for instance only granted competitors access to a reduced range of sports content.
   
“With these practices, Swisscom has gained an advantage in the competition between TV platforms in an illicit manner,” the competition authority said.
   
Swisscom and Cinetrade insisted in a statement that they “refute these accusations and consider … this sanction unfair.”

“Swisscom will carefully review the more than 200-page decree that has now been handed down,” it said. “Given the very high fine and the decision’s fundamental character, an appeal will be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court and, if necessary, the Federal Supreme Court.”

Last year the telecomms company was fined 186 million francs for improper pricing of broadband services after as a result of an investigation begun ten years earlier.

The original judgement of 219 million francs was reduced on appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

Swisscom has since lodged a further appeal to the Federal Supreme Court.

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