Swiss Radio International to stop broadcasting

Bern (ots) - swissinfo/Swiss Radio International (SRI) is to broadcast its last shortwave and satellite radio programmes on October 30, 2004. As SRI goes off the air after nearly 70 years, a chapter in Swiss radio history comes to an end. swissinfo/SRI will in future focus exclusively on its multimedia news and information platform, www.swissinfo.org, which is available in nine languages.

Swiss Radio International first broadcast to the world on shortwave in 1935. The station made a name for itself as a neutral voice of authority during the Second World War and throughout the Cold War. Programmes were broadcast in nine languages (German, French, Italian, Romansh, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and Esperanto). During this time, SRI established itself as one of the most high-profile and popular international radio broadcasters.

The end of the Cold War, coupled with the advent of satellite technology and the internet revolution, spelled the end of the shortwave era. At the end of the 1990s, and following a strategic change of direction which was approved by the Swiss government in 1999, swissinfo/SRI started to transform itself into a multimedia enterprise. The decision was taken to phase out radio output and develop an online presence, although audio reports and interviews are still available on the website. The multimedia news and information platform www.swissinfo.org was launched in March 1999. Today it is available in nine languages (German, French, Italian, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Japanese and Chinese). The change of strategy has paid off: today, www.swissinfo.org registers around 8.5 million page views each month.

Nicolas Lombard, the director of swissinfo/Swiss Radio International, admits that radio cannot be replaced. "But with our internet platform, www.swissinfo.org, we can offer a range of information that was simply not possible on the air. What we provide today is a wide range of news and stories from and about Switzerland, presented in a way which was unthinkable in the past," said Lombard.

As radio broadcasts come to an end, SRI will be broadcasting a variety of special programmes. The German Department is airing a selection of archive interviews with well-known Swiss, such as Max Frisch and Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt. Swiss living abroad are also being given the chance to have their say on air. For the last Arabic programme, most of the department's journalists will gather around a microphone. And you can listen again to highlights from our extensive archive of programmes in English by visiting www.swissinfo.org and clicking on the Multimedia button.

Nicolas D. Lombard,

Director swissinfo/

Giacomettistrasse 1

CH-3000 Bern 15

E-mail: nicolas.lombard@swissinfo.ch

Tel. +41/31/350'95'10