France to tax connected devices

The French government is considering a 1 per cent tax on the sale of smartphones and tablets to help fund French film, music and images, it is estimated it could raise around €85 million.

Broadcasters already pay fees to fund cultural projects but firms such as Google and Apple are currently exempt. The new proposal is in a study by the former CEO of French pay-TV channel Canal Plus, Pierre Lescure who was aked how to protect culture in the face of digital innovation.

Responding to the report Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti said “Today we have extremely sophisticated technological equipment that is extremely expensive to buy, but which contributes nothing to the financing of the works that circulate on that same equipment. Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators.”

The “culture tax” was likely to be included in a budget law to be submitted to parliament in November, Filipetti added.

Last year, France rowed with Google over government plans to tax the company’s revenue made from posting ads alongside online search results, in the end Google agreed to create a €60million fund to help French media organisations improve their internet operations.

The cultural exception policy, introduced in France in 1993, asserts that cultural goods are to be treated differently from other commercial goods.

Elsewhere the report says the Hadopi commission be abolished and that the strict rules governing video content distribution windows be relaxed.

Lescure proposed that the powers of the Hadopi, with its ‘three strikes’ regime, should be transferred to media regulator the CSA. The report also recommends that France’s system of content windowing should be relaxed, with a possible reduction of the time after which movies can be shown on VoD services reduced from 36 months after their theatrical release to 18 months.

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