Our press distribution system stands on five pillars. These essentials serve a single goal: the neutrality of press distribution must be guaranteed in Switzerland. Neutral distribution alone guarantees the greatest possible diversity of opinion. Above all, this fragile, balanced system guarantees that all titles are available everywhere. For this reason, it is impossible to remove a single pillar: All five pillars together guarantee the stability and continuity of the system.
Art. 16: Freedom of expression and information
- Freedom of expression and of information is guaranteed.
- Every person has the right freely to form, express, and impart their opinions.
- Every person has the right freely to receive information, to gather it from generally accessible sources and to disseminate it.
Art. 17: Freedom of the media
- Freedom of the press, radio and television and of other forms of dissemination of features and information by means of public telecommunications is guaranteed.
- Censorship is prohibited.
- The protection of sources is guaranteed.
How can we define the essentials ensuring that titles can be reliably obtained everywhere?
The crucial questions about the essentials
Why are sole distribution rights important?
The press wholesaler’s sole territorial distribution right includes publishers’ sole distribution obligation and retailers’ sole purchasing obligation. This right ensures that the entire territory receives broad, comprehensive cover, thus strengthening efficiency. Newspapers and magazines are rapidly perishable goods that must be transported extremely quickly. Were parallel distribution organizations to be set up without sole distribution rights, business management decisions would lead to supplies being limited to titles that sell well.
Why is the right of distribution important?
The press wholesaler’s right of distribution enables it to determine which products are to be stocked by a retailer and in what quantities. This keeps the number of returns as low as possible. Nobody makes money from returned magazines and newspapers. But the right of distribution is also essential if the principle of neutrality is to be guaranteed: without it, outlets would limit themselves to titles with a high circulation, or stock only certain titles because of their tastes or political convictions.
Why is the right of return important?
The right of return allows retailers and press wholesalers to return unsold titles free of charge for credit at cost price. The sales risk is borne by the publisher. The right of return is thus central to the neutrality of press distribution: without it, high-circulation print-media products would be favoured and the variety of titles would shrink.
Why is price fixing important?
Because the selling price of a title is set by the publisher, magazines and newspapers are sold at the same price throughout Switzerland – which is fair and reasonable from the perspective of democratic policy. If price fixing were to be abolished, retailers would concentrate their print-media ranges on high-margin products that are easy to sell.
Why is the usage requirement important?
Press wholesalers require retailers to offer products exclusively for retail sale in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. This prevents retailers from selectively acting as wholesalers for attractive individual titles or commercially interesting subject areas. The usage requirement ensures the supply of all titles offered throughout Switzerland and Liechtenstein.