by Malcolm Curtis | June 28, 2012 |
SRG SSR, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, is ceasing to operate World Radio Switzerland, the country’s only national English-language public radio station.
The corporation’s board of directors made the decision at a meeting on Wednesday.
The organization’s director general told WRS staff in April that English-language services were no longer a priority for SRG SSR.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the public broadcaster said potential buyers have shown interest in taking over the Geneva-based station, run by a staff of around 20 people.
SRG SSR said a project committee, overseen by financial director Daniel Jorio, has been created.
The head of the project is François Besençon, an SSR consultant.
A company specializing in mergers and acquisitions will be contacting private and institutional investors in Switzerland and abroad who are interested in continuing the service provided by WRS.
Applications will be received until the end of October.
The goal is to finalize a project this year that will come into effect in 2013 or 2014 according to the press release.
Anglo Media, a private company headed by entrepreneur Peter Sibley and former WRS presenter Mark Butcher, has previously stated that it is ready to replace WRS if it closes.
The company currently operates Radio Frontier, an Internet-based radio station aimed at expats in the Geneva and neighboring French region.
The decision by SRG SSR to sever relations with WRS followed an online campaign to keep the station in public hands that gathered around 4,000 signatures.
Politicians in Geneva and Bern also rallied in support of the station, which has up to 120,000 listeners, according to audience surveys.
WRS was created in 2007 when the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation took over privately-run FM station World Radio Geneva.
Full details of the SRG SSR news release (in French) can be found here.
Check out additional information about this story in my June 29, 2012 report for TheLocal.ch