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SWISS REFERENDUM

What is the ‘Netflix vote’ and how could it change TV in Switzerland?

The result of Switzerland's 'Netflix referendum' could see streaming costs increase, alongside significant programming changes. Here's what you need to know.

What is the ‘Netflix vote’ and how could it change TV in Switzerland?
Depending on the results of the vote, streaming services may become more regulated. Photo: Pixabay

On May 15th, the Swiss will go to the polls to decide on three issues, including one that would, if passed, regulate the content of streaming services.

In the second of four rounds of national referendums scheduled for 2022, the Swiss will head to the polls on May 15th to decide on three issues: The Film Act (dubbed ‘Lex Netflix), support for European border guards (Frontex), and transplant /organ donation law.

EXPLAINED: What’s at stake in Switzerland’s May referendums?

As elsewhere, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and others have become very popular in Switzerland.

According to Moneyland.ch, a price comparison platform, Netflix alone has 3.4 million subscribers in Switzerland, more than other streaming services combined.

However the Federal Council and the parliament want to raise the price of subscription (for Netflix, monthly costs range from 11.90 to 24.90 francs a month, depending on the plan).

What is the ‘Lex Netflix’ vote about?

Currently, national and regional channels must invest four percent of their profits in Swiss cinema. The Federal Council and parliament have decided that streaming platforms should contribute the same percentage to support domestic film-making as well.

The law also stipulates that 30 percent of the content of streaming services must consist of films or series produced in Europe.

While the move has incited opposition (see below), Switzerland is not the only country to take these measures, though the proportion of mandated indigenous production is higher than elsewhere.

In France, platforms must invest 26 percent of their turnover in local films and series, and in Italy 20 percent. In Germany, there is no obligation to invest, but a tax of 2.5 percent is levied.

Who is against this proposed change, and why?

A multi-party committee has launched a referendum against this law, claiming it would make streaming services more expensive.

“The law completely bypasses consumers and the new tax is an attack on their wallets”, according to Matthias Müller, chairman of the referendum committee.

The second bone of contention concerns the imposition of the 30 percent proportion of European content, which means “consumers will no longer have the freedom to watch what they want and will become, without valid reason, the victims of an absurd quota”.

The committee also argues that the “tax on films” constitutes “an attack on economic freedom”.

Will the law be accepted or rejected?

Just two weeks before the vote, the Swiss populace appears split on the issue. 

The latest poll carried out at the end of April by Switzerland’s largest media group, Tamedia, shows that 47 percent of respondents would reject the project , while 49 percent would accept it.

The fate of what will certainly be a very close outcome lies with the four percent of  voters who are still undecided. So, as they say in many Netflix shows… stay tuned!

READ MORE: Frontex: How Switzerland’s ‘border vote’ on May 15th could impact travel

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ZURICH

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

Voters in Switzerland’s most populous canton on Sunday approved a proposal which will make it easier for foreigners to get Swiss citizenship.

Zurich approves simplified path to Swiss citizenship

The vote passed with 69.1 percent support, making it the most popular of the four initiatives put to the polls. 

Around 350,000 foreigners live in Zurich, which is roughly one quarter of the population – although the percentage is as high as 50 percent in some municipalities. 

The successful proposal called for Zurich’s naturalisation process, including the citizenship exam, to be made uniform across all 162 municipalities. 

The questions in the exam will now be centralised on a cantonal level. 

The test will include 350 questions about Swiss history, tradition, politics and culture, with a focus on Zurich. 

Anyone taking the test will be given 50 questions at random and must answer at least 30 correctly to pass. 

More information about the citizenship process in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How Zurich wants to make naturalisation easier

What else was decided on Sunday? 

Voters in Zurich also decided to reject a proposal to lower the voting age to 16, with 64.1 percent saying ‘nein’ to the proposal. 

A proposal to provide for more parental leave – and even up gender imbalances between fathers and mothers – was also rejected. 

Finally, voters supported law changes which sought to enshrine Zurich’s climate change goals in the cantonal constitution. 

A detailed breakdown of the vote can be seen here. 

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