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Swiss secret service warns against Chinese technical support for Swiss public television

The Swiss radio and television broadcaster (SRF) cannot get its technical problems under control and therefore had to call in help from China. This has become an explosive matter in view of the danger of espionage, military sources said.

Published: January 12, 2022, 9:43 am

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    It has been a never-ending series of technical breakdowns on Swiss television. A year ago it became known that repairs to SRF studios cost huge sums of money. “SRF breakdowns in studios cost the fee payers 400 000 francs per month,” was the headline of the Watson portal. The new studios started operations in 2019 but staff have not been brought up to speed with the equipment: “With the new studios, Swiss television is relying on a technology that has hardly been tested and has not yet worked.”

    Now, a year later, things took a turn for the worse: The technology in question still doesn’t work. Millions more were spent on technicians being called in to solve the problems, but without success. SRF now has to use “Chinese specialists”, reported 20 Minuten, citing the Aargauer Zeitung.

    The cause of the problem is the new editing system Hive from Sony. Since Sony’s customer service could not solve the problems either, “the third stage has now been used,” Andreas Lattmann, Head of Technology Management at SRF told the Aargauer Zeitung.

    “Technical support from Sony Europe, based in the Netherlands, and an operational technician from Germany were called in. He then called on specialists in China,” explained Lattmann. Because these technicians work for the Sobey company with headquarters in Chengdu, China, SRF is currently trying to get a visa for a Chinese specialist who can solve the problem on site.

    This has become a volatile matter in Switzerland in view of the industrial espionage threats that emanates from China, according to the military. The technician is supposed to solve existing problems as well as introduce a new editing system for television in the whole of western Switzerland.

    In this context, the Federal Intelligence Service (NDB) has been warning against espionage by Chinese companies. In the Management report 2021 it noted: “China’s espionage activities represent a major threat to Switzerland.” It is expected that foreign intelligence services would therefore, when based in Switzerland, take aim at Swiss companies.

    This applies to companies in the fields of information technology, chemical and pharmaceutical technology, mobility, renewable energies and defense technology. “The defense against proliferation and espionage attempts requires more and more attention and effort,” it stated.

    Interestingly, the intelligence report warned that China was “consistently pursuing its approach of a civil and military merger”. The current drive to forcefully vaccinate whole populations in the West is also a good example of such a merger. The information that China has tried to procure in Switzerland is said to be strengthening the capabilities of its military.

    Concerns like this were dismissed by Swiss television. SRF technical director Lattmann responded: “It was both technically and contractually secured that support staff did not have access to any content data or any other information relevant to data protection or that they could not download it.”

    But how would Lattmann know? The Swiss, Germans and Dutch technicians have been unable to solve their own glitches.

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