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GENEVA: Swiss voters on Sunday handily rejected a proposal brought by free-market advocates to end mandatory fees to finance publicly supported TV and radio programming, a result that brought a sigh of relief to Europe’s state-backed broadcasters.

Swiss broadcaster RTS one of the stations that would have been affected said a minimum number of Swiss cantons, or regions, turned down the “No Billag” referendum, spelling the end of the measure championed by far-right populists and named for the company that collects the TV and radio license fees.

RTS cited an early exit poll by the gfs.bern agency projecting 71 per cent of Swiss voters had rejected the initiative, one of many held under Switzerland’s distinct form of direct democracy.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2018