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Specialist Guide to the
Global Leaders in Media Law Practice
Concentration trends in Switzerland have intensified over the past year, which also included a referendum to abolish television license fees as pressure on public service media continues.
Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, Partner at Pestalozzi, said: “On a business level, we experienced an increase of concentration of resources in the media landscape, including press.”
Developments include the national vote against a proposal to abolish mandatory fees for state television and radio, after a referendum held
in March 2018. More than 70 per cent of nationals voted to keep the annual license fee, which funds 75 per cent of media services by public broadcaster SRG SSR.
The initiative known locally as “No Billag” – a reference to the agency Billag that collects
the license fee – has sparked debate over the media’s role in promoting national unity in a country with four official languages.
The government opposed the proposal on the grounds that it threatens media diversity. Communications Minister Doris Leuthard said she was pleased voters support public services.
At a news conference, she said: “Radio and television in Switzerland should also in the future contribute to education, cultural development, forming opinions as well as entertainment.”
Lawyers also highlight press and the video segments as being of high value and frequency, while data protection continues to be a significant area of focus following GDPR implementation in May 2018.
Ms Hofer commented “On the legislative level, the project of the revised copyright law is now being discussed at political level. With the revision to the Copyright Act, the Federal Council wants to strengthen the rights and interests of creative artists and the cultural industries by taking a resolute approach to pirated online content.”
She added: “At the same time, it upholds the principle that consumers who take advantage of such illegal offers will not be criminalised.”
Bär & Karrer works extensively with operators of satellite and cable television services on regulatory and contractual issues. The practice, focussed on media and sports law, is appointed by publishers, composers, musicians, authors, and other artists. Led by Michele Bernasconi, the media team negotiates television rights agreements, handles related complex disputes and advises on regulatory matters connected with online streaming.
Homburger is a well regarded practice for its work on media and intellectual property. Led by practice head Gregor Bühler, the team advises on sports marketing law, broadcasting rights and online content. The practice is known for its focus on unfair competition, regulation and compliance. Lawyers also represent clients in state court litigation and arbitration. Other areas of focus include licensing, technology transfer, distribution and franchising agreements.
Media specialist is among national leaders for digital media matters. According to one client “The firm does excellent work. Not only in the core areas of media law but also in other practice areas where we need support, for example tax law and labour law.” With an entertainment specialisation, the practice group advises on television broadcast, film, music and gaming. Managed by Rolf Auf der Maur, the group collaborates with the information and communication, intellectual property and competition departments.
One of the country’s leading commercial law firms, Walder Wyss provides a multidisciplinary service. The media and communications team acts for advertisers, PR agencies and press publishers on regulatory cases, data protection and pre-publication matters. Key practitioners include Didier Sangiorgio and Markus R. Frick who also advise on art and sports. Other focus areas include anti-trust and competition, data protection and intellectual property.
id est avocats handles publicity rights, unfair competition and IP licensing matters across several industries including entertainment and online media. Founding partner Michel Jaccard acts for clients from entrepreneurs to global industry leaders. The Lausanne-based firm also represents clients from the advertising, technology and IT sectors.
Full-service firm Lenz & Staehelin is known for its transactional and regulatory work. The team acts for broadcasters, content providers and cinema operators. Work ranges from advice on day-to-day contracting and regulatory matters to licensing, advertising and sponsorship matters. Key practitioners include Miguel Oural and Marcel Meinhardt who work out of the firm’s Geneva and Zurich offices respectively.
The media team at Pestalozzi Attorneys at Law is highly regarded for its extensive experience advising on multiple segments of media including publishing and broadcast. Clients and competitors praise the firm for its high visibility and quality of advice. One client said: “We have always been very pleased with the service provided by Pestalozzi. This refers to deadline adherence, short notice requests and additional services.” Under the leadership of Lorenza Ferrari Hofer, the IP and TMT group advises on social media, advertising, unfair competition and data protection.
Schellenberg Wittmer combines media, art and entertainment under one practice area. Zurich-based is an arbitrator of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and one of the firm’s intellectual property specialists. The practice is appointed by art institutions, collectors, artists, art dealers, sports organisations and entertainment businesses.
Focussed on media and sports, Kellerhals Attorneys at Law assists clients including national and international federations, athletes and sponsors. Lawyers negotiate and draft sponsoring and license agreements and handle all aspects involving broadcasting rights. The team also represents sports clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in disciplinary proceedings, cases involving player transfers and commercial transactions.
Nater Dallafior is well established in the legal market and recognised for its handling of media law cases. Acting for broadcasters, the team provides ongoing advice on regulatory matters to a privately owned local television station. Lawyers also negotiate agreements between broadcasters and programme providers, assist film producers on antitrust issues and provide advice on compliance and copyright matters. Andrea Etienne and Mathis Berger are the firm’s primary contacts for media-related work.
Thouvenin’s media work is driven by its intellectual property and technology division. In addition to contentious work, the team advises on commercial transactions such as licensing and joint ventures. Co-head of the practice group Patrick Rohn is an experienced litigator, handling domestic and international commercial cases. The firm also advises on distribution, licensing and competition.
Wenger Plattner’s art and entertainment focus makes it a popular choice among artists, art companies, sponsors, and cultural associations. The practice is known for its experience litigating before the courts in cases connected with musicals, theatre, visual arts, and literature. Founding partner Peter Mosimann works closely with Marc-André Renold advising public and private organisations.
The media team at Froriep works in collaboration with other practice groups including IT, intellectual property, corporate and commercial. Areas of expertise include television broadcasting rights and film production agreements, sponsorship, advertising and product placement. Key practitioner Nicola Benz has considerable experience advising on all types of commercial contracts, competition and regulatory issues.
MME specialises in gaming and live entertainment. The team, which includes Luka Mueller-Studer, Andreas Glarner and Balz Hösly, acts for online service providers, domestic casinos and foreign online gaming operators. Working with clients from the entertainment sector, lawyers advise ticketing companies, promoters, artists and venue managers.
Python lawyers have extensive knowledge of copyright and entertainment law. The team regularly advises on contracts and license agreements, advertising and privacy. Other areas of expertise include press and television advertising in cases involving representation before the Commission.
Zulauf Partners is well regarded by peers and highlighted for its visibility in cases involving media and communications. Lawyers act for clients in cases of libel, slander and privacy protection, on radio and television regulation and on advertising law. Founding partner Rena Zulauf specialises in broadcast law, new media, entertainment and advertising. The team also advises on copyright and data protection.
Badertscher Attorneys at Law is well regarded by competitors for its work in the publishing sphere. The practice works with media companies operating, in Switzerland and internationally, on matters including libel, slander and unfair competition. Andreas Braun is the firm’s key contact for media-related work, which also includes advise on licensing of content, publishing rights and financial joint ventures.
BianchiSchwald works on cases involving privacy, media and technology. The firm’s core areas of focus include data protection, distribution, licensing and the transfer and protection of technology. Managing partner Manuel Bianchi della Porta has detailed knowledge of broadcast regulations and the broadcasting of sporting and cultural events. Other focus areas include corporate transactions.
Prager Dreifuss is driven by the firm’s IP and IT focus, which includes advice on sports rights. Ralph Butz and Gaudenz F. Domenig lead the team in its work on licensing of rights to films and sporting events, data protection, computer software and information technology. The firm is also appointed by domestic and international entrepreneurs in commercial and corporate matters.
Ranking and editorials
Bär & Karrer
id est avocats
Lenz & Staehelin
Niederer Kraft & Frey
CMS von Erlach Poncet
Badertscher Attorneys at Law
Wenger & Vieli
RANKING AND EDITORIALS