Couleur 3 is the first European radio station to go on the air for half a day with programs created by artificial intelligence: lyrics, music, and speaker voices. Only the news remained handled by the traditional newsroom. Here’s how it went

During the test, bulletins were aired every twenty minutes to alert listeners and ask them to communicate via email and social what sensations they felt when listening to the programs created by the artificial intelligence

The Swiss are not afraid of innovation. After all, it is through innovation that their watch industry has achieved world leadership. In radio, they are ahead of their time: in the early 2000s, RSI (Swiss Radio International) moved to the web by dismantling the powerful shortwave transmitter at Sottens (500 kW) in 2004. Twenty years later they are ready to switch off FM for DAB (from 2024), but unlike Norway, they have prepared the transition methodically: widespread coverage of the territory and information campaigns to buy digital receivers. And artificial intelligence sees them as pioneers once again: while in the States they are announcing software, Colour 3, the third public radio network in French-speaking Switzerland, has already gone on air on 27 April 2023 with programmes made by AI.

Thirteen hours of programming, three months of preparation

The report that RTS, a television in French-speaking Switzerland, devoted to the test carried out at Couleur 3

Although the experiment lasted half a day, it was meticulously prepared for months, experimenting with ten types of artificial intelligence and selecting five of them, including ChatGPT. The texts of the programmes were generated by algorithms, the music composed by AI, and the digital voices of five female and male animators of the station, cloned by Respeecher, a company specialising in film productions, were put on air. Only the information was handled in the traditional way, with articles written and read by live editors. Speakers, however, can rest assured, because artificial intelligence, as Antoine Multone, head of Colour 3, pointed out, is ‘cold’ and cannot replace the creativity, improvisation, and humour of a human.

Work less, work better

In addition to Antoine Multone, director of Colour 3, RTS interviewed the station’s speakers and experts in artificial intelligence

But the path is now marked out and the experiment is considered interesting by Pascal Crittin, director of RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) because the energy that can be saved by entrusting the management of part of the programming to artificial intelligence can be concentrated on the originality of the content. Also, he adds that RTS and SSR (Société Suisse de radiodiffusion) want to use AI in an ethical manner, offering verified information and protecting the public from fake news. All of this is in the DNA of Couleur 3, which was one of the first Swiss radio stations to computerise its schedule, use samplers and, more recently, try out binaural sound, create social network videos and new musical currents before they spread.
(Written by Fabrizio Carnevalini)


A mobile RAI vehicle conducting tests for digital radio reception in the tunnels

With the development of DAB comes the question of how to add services to an existing system. A study conducted in Italy in 2017 by the RAI-Radiotelevisione Italiana Research Centre, in anticipation of the development of digital radio, highlighted the criticalities of using the structures built to broadcast the channel over Isoradio traffic. It would be necessary to intervene on the device that mixes the signals before conveying them on the slit cable: a costly and complex operation. It was therefore suggested, in order to drastically reduce costs, to use the radio wave system by re-transmitting the signal from an antenna placed at one end of the tunnel, or, in longer tunnels, at both ends.

A leading country…

On the BPC website, you can find in-depth technical information on tunnel diffusion systems

Italy, due to its orography, is the second largest country in the world in terms of the number and length of tunnels, second only to China and followed by Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and France. And it can count on world-leading companies in tunnelling, underground construction and transmission systems with a high level of integration such as those used in the Frejus (12.8 km) and Mont Blanc (11.6 km) international motorway tunnels. More than 30 channels are available in these tunnels for the services of Italy and France: fire brigade, border police, Carabinieri, Gendarmerie, medical emergency vehicles and FM broadcasting with RDS. The systems are managed by a control centre that can interrupt radio programmes to broadcast emergency messages.

…but Switzerland also has its leadership

On the website of SRG SSR, the company that runs Switzerland’s public radio and television service, you can find a list of the 193 road tunnels where you can listen to digital radio

Switzerland is well advanced on DAB. Network expansion has been going on since 2014: the country had given itself a ten-year horizon for the switchover to digital radio, which will take place at the end of 2024 when the analogue FM transmitters will be switched off. Currently, SSR network coverage for indoor reception is 98%, while for outdoor reception and car radios it even exceeds 99%. Today, therefore, Switzerland boasts the best DAB+ coverage in the world, with some 193 tunnels longer than 300 metres being illuminated by the signal already in 2018 with an investment of around CHF 30 million. The areas not covered are mainly located in peripheral regions, a problem that will be solved in the coming years.
(Writteb by Fabrizio Carnevalini)


In the latest technical bulletin (December 2021), SRG SSR takes stock of the expansion of the DAB+ digital transmission network

Despite the fact that DAB+ signals already reach 99 % of the population in Switzerland, as required by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), the public broadcaster has further expanded the digital network in Italian and French-speaking Switzerland. Between 2020 and 2021, ten new transmitters were activated and twelve others were optimized. Improvements were made in the cantons of Jura, in the northwest of the country, and Ticino, located almost entirely south of the Alps, where the network was further expanded at the beginning of 2021 with the activation of the installation in Cardada. In Switzerland, the digital signal is also broadcast in tunnels longer than 300 meters: the list of the 193 road tunnels covered by DAB+ signals can be consulted on

SWITZERLAND: A referendum not to switch off FM

A referendum not to switch off FM in Switzerland
Roger Schawinski, a radio entrepreneur and director of Zurich-based Radio 1 considers the switch-off to be premature and contrary to the freedom of reception guaranteed by the Law on Radio and Television.

More than 60,000 Swiss citizens have signed a petition to hold a referendum to block the switch-off of FM radio channels, scheduled to start in 2022. Switzerland was following in the footsteps of Norway, which was the first country to choose to migrate to Dab in 2017 (although there are currently more than 100 FM radio stations and 552 transmitters on air in the Scandinavian country). The initiative’s promoters cite an article published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung by media expert Urs Saxer, which states that SRG SSR, as a public service, has a clear mandate to guarantee a basic service to the entire population, and switching off FM would have no legal basis. The switchover is planned to take place in two stages: the public broadcaster SRG SSR will switch off its transmitters in August 2022, while the private broadcasters will have time until January 2023. According to a survey conducted last year by the Swiss branch of the market research institute GFK, only 29% of Swiss listen to terrestrial radio (FM and/or DAB) and only 13% of the Confederation’s citizens use analogue FM radio only.

Schweiz: Das Aus von DVB-T, dem terrestrischen Fernsehen und die regionale Rückkehr


Switzerland is one of the most pioneering countries in the abandonment of Hertzian waves: in 2004, it switched off the Sottens shortwave transmitter (with 500 kW) and transferred the programs to the web. In 2010 it was the turn of the medium waves (the last to be switched off, the Sottens system) and in 2019 it was the turn of digital terrestrial television (which is still received via cable). Too bad, however, that the switch-off was done ignoring the agreements made with some private operators who were authorised to retransmit the DVB-T signal. So much so that some transmitters have now been switched on again. Christian Brülhart’s article analyses the situation. But digitalisation is continuing at a fast pace: the Swiss government has brought forward the abandonment of FM to the summer of 2022: analogue channels will be replaced by DAB digital channels.

ARTICLE (Auf Deutsch)

Das terrestrische Fernsehen wurde von der SRG in der Schweiz abgedreht, Private bringen es jetzt zurück

Ab dem Herbst 2014 wurden in der Schweiz überraschend die Sendeleistungen der DVB-T Sender massiv um den Faktor 10-15 reduziert, gestaffelt nach Regionen. Manche Auguren sahen das als Vorzeichen einer kompletten DVB-T Abschaltung, die fünf Jahre später folgen sollte. Im Herbst 2015 erklärte das Bakom, dass es das UHF-Band mittel- bis längerfristig komplett dem Mobilfunk übereignen wolle. Somit war klar, dass das Aus für das terrestrische Fernsehen kommen wird, nur wann, war damals noch unklar.

Fernsehen wird in der Schweiz vor allem über Kabelnetze und über Internet, Dienste wie Swisscom-TV mit hunderten Programmen und zeitunabhängigem Fernsehen dank einem 7 Tage-Zeitfenster, in denen man Programme nach der Erstausstrahlung schauen kann, findet viele Nutzer, die auch ein gutes Festnetz-Internet haben. Das terrestrische Netz strahlte über DVB-T fünf SRG-Programme landesweit aus; im Wallis und in Graubünden gab es indes private Netze, die dutzende Programme – teils verschlüsselt – über DVB-T ausgestrahlt haben, quasi Kabelnetze über die Luft. Valaiscom stellte den Betrieb, als das 800er Band dem Fernsehen weggenommen wurde («Digitale Dividende») und dem Mobilfunk zugeschanzt wurde, den Betrieb ein. Tele Rätia in Graubünden stellte den Betrieb Ende 2018 ein, als das Bakom auch noch das 700er Band für die Mobilfunk einkassierte.

Die SRG bekam Ende August 2018 eine neue Konzession vom Bakom, diese besagt, dass die SRG das terrestrische Fernsehen bis Ende 2019 aufgeben muss. Die SRG hat sich dann entschieden, DVB-T im Sommer 2019 abzuschalten; im Dezember 2018 wurde angekündigt, dass das terrestrische Fernsehen zum 3. Juni 2019 abgeschaltet werde. Die Informationskampagne war gut, aber das Aus von DVB-T hat doch ein paar zehntausend Haushalten den TV-Empfang weggenommen. Am 3.6.19 wurden die Programme über DVB-T eingestellt, danach wurden noch Hinweisbilder über die Sender ausgestrahlt, am 7.7.19 wurden die DVB-T Sender abgeschaltet.

Sendemast auf dem Hohen Kasten
Quelle: Christian Brülhart

Bereits im Juli 2019 hörte ich davon, dass am Hohen Kasten DVB-T reaktiviert werden könnte. Kabel-TV Lampert aus dem Vorarlberg bemühte sich darum, dass terrestrische Fernsehen auf diesem Ostschweizer Gipfel reaktivieren zu können, um das Schweizer Fernsehen weiterhin in ihr Kabelnetz einspeisen zu dürfen. Sie bekamen dann wirklich die Lizenz vom Bakom, DVB-T vom Hohen Kasten auf Kanal 34 ausstrahlen zu können. Geplant war ursprünglich, das noch vor dem Jahreswechsel 19/20 zu ermöglichen. Wetterunbill, die Revision der Bahn und die Corona-Pandemie verzögerten das um ein halbes Jahr, aber am 8.7.20 wurde der Hohe Kasten reaktiviert und strahlt seitdem wieder SRF1 und SRF2 aus. Der Hohe Kasten sendet den Kanal 34 mit einer ziemlich scharfen Richtstrahlung gen Nordwesten.

In der Romandie hat der private Sender Léman bleu ähnliches initiiert, seit dem Juni 2020 senden La Dôle-Barrilette und der Salève ebenfalls auf Kanal 34 die Programme der RTS wieder terrestrisch aus, dies in DVB-T2.

Wir sind froh, dass das terrestrische Fernsehen so zumindest regional zurückkehrte, denn das ist die einzige Möglichkeit, ohne Satellitenausrüstung und ohne Provider Fernsehen empfangen zu können.

Christian Brülhart

Switzerland: Postcard from the Shortwave’s time –the international unit of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR)– published a collection of historical photos and recordings on its website to commemorate 70 years of broadcasting. The partners of the “The Sounds of…” project are the international services of Canada, Poland, Romania and Czech Republic whose journalists provided videos to explain how they did their work. Sounds and images that enable to go back in time – when the sounds were disturbed by atmospheric noises and people were smoking cigarettes in their offices.

70 years of shortwave broadcastings

SWI Logo

Switzerland’s international service started in 1935, called the SOC (Short Wave Swiss Service): in those days these bands represented the only effective way for radio to travel long distance, allowing to receive news from foreign countries.
In 1989, when the Cold War came to an end and propaganda was no longer necessary, the governments started trying to cut the high broadcasting costs (being able to reach the whole world needs transmitters up to hundreds of kW and huge antennas). Operators have reacted in different ways, like turning off some frequencies, reducing the languages offered or changing the broadcastings method.

Optimism in technological transitions

Switzerland, for its part, has turned off the high energy-consuming transmitters and continued to broadcast programs via satellite and – since 1999 – via internet, making it one of the first online radio stations. The editorial staff has been extended adding new languages like Chinese, Japanese and Russian and new audio and video contents. This is the reason why the programme changed its name to Swiss Radio International.

Click here to watch some videos by SWI.

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