Archive for the ‘television’ Tag

Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz   Leave a comment

By Bill Wirtz

The European liberty movement may be small, but it’s having extraordinary growth and grassroots success in a place you might least expect it: Switzerland.

Source: Swiss Students Are Fighting Back Against Unfair TV Fees | Bill Wirtz


Image result for image switzerland tvSwitzerland, like many European nations, has certain television and radio channels that are run by the government. The state-run channels in Switzerland date back to World War I when the government had completely monopolized both TV and radio “for security reasons,” and paid for it with a fee called the “Billag.” After the war period, Switzerland opened the market to private media companies, but it kept the “Billag” fee in order to pay for the state channels which still absolutely dominate the market to this day.

The fee even has its own website,, on which the mandatory contribution is explained as follows:

In Switzerland, you are legally obligated to pay the radio and television fees. By paying the fees you enable radio and television programmes in every part of Switzerland.”

Which almost sounds like you couldn’t have any TV or radio stations if it wasn’t for governmental control. For Frédéric Jollien, who is a Senior Local Coordinator for European Students for Liberty and founder of Swiss Students for Liberty, this description is dishonest:

The assumption that the media landscape would crumble if we were to abolish this annual fee is ridiculous. The opponents of our campaign claim that without the “Billag,” nobody would pay for state channels, yet they simultaneously also argue that people are very fond of the content. Which one is it now?”

Together with other classical liberals in Switzerland, Frédéric Jollien is fighting against the royalties imposed by the government for media consumption. 450 Swiss Francs, the equivalent of €382 or $456, is the annual fee that consumers are required to pay, regardless if they want state-run TV and radio channels or not.

“We are not trying to abolish anything. We merely want consumers to choose for themselves which channels they want to watch,” says Frédéric, who works in the campaign of “NoBillag,” the citizens’ initiative that intends to overturn the fee via referendum.

The “NoBillag” campaign has been working on the issue of media royalties for three years now, and effectively managed to get their citizens’ initiative approved. This means that a public vote on the repeal of the “Billag” will take place on March 4, 2018. Until then, the campaign is tirelessly working to promote its ideas. Frédéric Jollien explains that this one of the very few referenda which were organized by people who believe in the concepts of free markets and free people.

However, running such a campaign demands considerable efforts.

The government has extended the “Billag” to include private companies as well. Despite them only receiving less than 10 percent of the revenue generated by the fee, they now also have vested interests in keeping it in place and steadily negotiating a larger chunk of it. It’s us against the whole media landscape.”

The print media is equally unimpressed by the “NoBillag” campaign, as owners also seek to convince the government to initiate large subsidies for the papers, the same way it is practiced in countries like France. Furthermore, after petitioning for months to get the necessary signatures to organize a referendum, the campaign was left with only 30,000 CHF (€25,600), which is clearly too little to run a three-language campaign in the mountainous country in Central Europe.

Frédéric Jollien is very optimistic regardless.

“We started a crowdfunding campaign and raised over 100,000 Francs in only ten days, bringing us closer to our 160,000 CHF objective. But not only that: several polls have indicated that we might very well be able to win the public vote!”

The success of the idea of letting consumers choose which TV and radio programs they watch is apparent. Journalists (who, by the way, are exempt from paying this fee) are releasing heavy verbal fire on the campaigners. They claim it would cause massive unemployment in the media sector, that it is anti-democratic, and that it would enable big foreign companies to take over the Swiss market.

“It’s actually quite peculiar. The Swiss conservatives, who are usually the ones spreading fear of foreigners, support us because they believe that state media is being biased against them, while the Left opposes us because they believe the evil foreign media channels from Germany, Italy, and France will eat us up. This shows how strange the idea of a free market can sound to people,” says Frédéric.

Until the vote in March, he is busily writing op-eds and participating in radio and TV debates. If the campaign would be successful, then this would definitely be one of the most extraordinary free-market grassroots-led initiatives in Europe to date.

Frédéric and the campaign hope to raise more money for their efforts. You can support them through their crowdfunding campaign here:

Adapted from an article originally appearing on the Freedom Today Network

Posted January 19, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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Childhood Television   14 comments

Today’s blog hope asks what television shows from our childhoods would we bring back and why?

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Wow! I had to google television shows from the 1960s and 70s to even remember what shows there were and I will admit — I didn’t find a lot I’d want to bring back and the ones that I would like have already been brought back with mixed results.

My childhood television viewing window was 1965 through 1979, and it was a sea of episodic banality. Most shows simply sought to fill in a half-hour or hour with something that people wouldn’t turn off and so, they didn’t try all that hard. I watched them and some of them I loved at the time, but I watch them now and wonder at the very poor writing choices.

I will give nods to some shows I think you should find on Netflix and watch – The Waltons showed a good family dynamic and my mother (who grew up in that era) said it was a fairly accurate presentation except you didn’t see the kids working that hard. Mom and her siblings worked very hard.

The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD were good for showing police as they ought to be — peace officers instead of law enforcement officers. I don’t see that being reality anymore, but I think it should be. If cops were more like that, there’d be less crime and fewer people wanting to shoot cops. I liked All in the Family and MASH. Actually I’ve watched MASH several times as an adult and it was a great show. All In the Family doesn’t play well in this era, in my opinion.

I liked the family movie nights. From Disney when I was a little kid to the CBS Movie when I was a teenager, it was a good opportunity to hang out with my parents. I wouldn’t want to see the same shows, but the concept of a family movie night is a good one.

Image result for image of mashI can’t really think of a single show I would bring back from my childhood. A few have been brought back and, frankly, ruined. Television remakes in general have an abysmal track record. The Bionic Woman, Knight Rider, Get Smart, Love Boat, Dragnet, Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, Dallas (that was when I was in college, actually) have all been redone and stank like last week’s fish left out on the counter. Now that we have the ability to go back and watch the original shows, I can see why. They weren’t very well-written to begin with. They didn’t think they needed to be. People would get to see it once … maybe twice … and then it would be forgotten. There was no need to write anything with the thought that people would come back and want to redo it. So there wasn’t much to work with and writers don’t want to bypass what was great about the original shows and thereby bypass a built-in audience, so they end up writing something not worth watching by a modern audience who has grown accustomed to well-written dramas and actually funny comedies.

Shows that have been brought back successfully have mostly done so by re-imagining the classic series. Battlestar Galactica was quite different from the 1978 show as is Hawaii Five-O. Twilight Zone followed a similar concept with new content. Star Trek (I know it’s a movie, not a television show) keeps some of the elements that made the show great writ large for the big screen and updated for a modern audience. Mostly, it’s saved by the current casts ability to make you see the former cast in them without being slavish to the original.

What I would like to see brought back is not so much individual shows as the concept of families watching television together because the shows were not written for a particular age group, but for the entire family. That would mean easing back on the sex talk and controversial subjects and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Hollywood is not through with remaking American society in its own image and American society no longer has any gatekeepers for what is appropriate, so I suggest we just leave those old shows available on Netflix et al so that people who want to see them in the original version can find them and binge watch. Maybe some of the older-era dynamics and worldview will wear off, but you know what they say about bringing horses to water.

Posted December 12, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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Can We Stay Out of Each Other’s Bedrooms?   4 comments

I don’t watch a lot of television, so shows come and go without my notice. I think there’s a lot of good television out there, but I have other things to do and I miss too many episodes to enjoy a series if I try to watch in a traditional way, so I time-shift my viewing. If a program was good, I catch it on Netflix. If it wasn’t, I probably didn’t miss much.

Under the circumstances, my general impression of TV was that there seemed to be an awful lot of gay characters on the shows I occasionally tune into, but I thought it was just poor luck. Then Saturday I had lunch with friends from my social work days and some woman at a table near us went off on a five-minute rant about how the networks are canceling gay-themed shows right and left and putting “diversity on television” at risk.

Wow! Really? Inquiring minds want to know.

The 2012-13 broadcast season featured more homosexual characters than ever before and the Big Four (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX) lost 7.5% of their viewership, much of that in the very important 18-49 demographic. Is it coincidence or correlation that gays are up and ratings are down? The networks apparently saw correlation and canceled a record number of gay-themed programs, including Partners, Smash, and The New Normal. It appears the American television audience may not want so many homosexual men coming into their living rooms or, honestly, their bedrooms so often.

This seems indicative of the cultural revolution that America is struggling with right now. Sex is a very intimate act so why is television so focused on sexual orientation? I think I speak for most heterosexuals in America – Hollywood, stay out of my bedroom and I’ll stay out of yours. If it is wrong for my morals to intrude in your bedroom, it is wrong for your bedroom to intrude on my morals. Hollywood, populated by people whose mores prevent them from stepping into a house of worship, seeks to use television to shape mores, turning what is meant to be entertainment into a 3-hour nightly sermon, addressed to a nation that can’t even get out of bed for an hour sermon once a week. Wow, no wonder they’re hitting the scan button!

Many gays will insist that there is no intention to reorient opinion through gay programs, but the results, found in a poll in the Hollywood Reporter, shows that depiction of homosexuality make viewers more welcoming to it. Since the increase in gay programming on television started around 2002, views on gay marriage have exponentially swung in its favor.

This may be because the depictions of homosexuals on network television resemble advertising more closely than entertainment. What do most of us do during the commercials? Yes, change the channel … or turn off the set altogether and go do something else.

My husband, who is both pretty comfortable with his own masculinity and not hostile toward gays, says there’s only one gay character he tolerates on TV and a quick survey of his construction worker colleagues found agreement. The one character they like is Stefon, Saturday Night Live’s very inappropriate, sleep-deprived clubber. In my research I also learned that homosexual activists HATE this character. To figure out why, I watched three sketches and thoroughly enjoyed them – had some great belly laughs. I suspect this is because the writers, the actor, and the largely heterosexual audience are all in on the joke. Just as Dana Carvey’s Church Lady was not a mean-spirited attack on Pentacostal bun ladies, Stefon acknowledges that “alternative lifestyles” can go to extremes and those extremes deserve to be tweaked. Stefon is absurb and it’s funny, in part because Stefon is completely not believable, but what comes out of his mouth is … unlike the saintly depictions of homosexuals during the primetime propaganda hours.

I also watched an episode of The New Normal to balance the funny with the propaganda and found that the producers apparently expect the audience to buy the absurdity as normal. I haven’t been properly indoctrinated, so it isn’t funny. Ellen Barkin’s demonization of conservatives is a wooden caricature of what Hollywood thinks of those outside their social circle and the gay characters are mere symbols of a political and social position rather than interesting characters. They appear to exist as change-agents, not entertainment. I’m glad I only wasted one episode’s worth of time on that show. If the other shows were similar, I understand why they were canceled. Just because a show has gay characters is no excuse for being bad television.

So, here’s a thought, Hollywood. Try writing some interesting characters doing either funny or exciting things and don’t bother to tell us their sexual interests. Let us figure it out on our own. Leave something to the imagination. Recognize that television inhabits a culturally monolithic tiny bubble of America that embraces lifestyles that do not reflect much of American society. In this capacity, the ruling elites of Hollywood reject America as it is and tries to force us to become what we are not. It’s not overly surprising to me that American television viewers are refusing to cooperate and have chosen to reciprocate by rejecting Hollywood.

Where is the remote? Ah! Found it!


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