SWISS LOCAL RADIO FORCED TO ENCRYPT SATELLITE SIGNAL
Jorn Krieger, Munich
In a landmark decision, the Swiss Upper House has ruled that Swiss local broadcasters Radio Top and Radio Framboise have to encrypt their satellite signals to comply with their licences that only cover local FM distribution. Radio Framboise and Radio Top along with the latter’s recently launched sister service Top Two have been transmitting free-to-air within Belgacom’s digital package on Hot Bird 3 for several months to reach cable headends, FM transmitters and DTH listeners.
According to the government’s administration office, the channels’ objections against the restrictive ruling were rejected, and as a consequence the satellite feeds will have to be encrypted. The broadcasters argue that the high costs of encoding and decoding the signals at the uplink, the cable headends and the local FM transmitters would make the satellite solution impractical
The Upper House however ruled that if a free-to-air transmission were approved, then this would undermine the federal Swiss broadcasting law which distinguishes between local/regional, national and international channels. According to an Upper House spokesman, it would now be up to the government to eventually change the media law. Paradoxically, the channels continue to be available free-to-air to a global audience through their live streams on the Internet.