Yet more to the right than the National, the Council of States wants to tax. Streaming services, in this case. This Monday, the Upper House stood firm in the face of the reductions proposed by that of the people concerning the very shortened “Netflix tax”, that is to say the obligation for broadcasters, including on the Web, to invest in Swiss independent film creation. It is a question of devoting 4% of the turnover achieved in Switzerland to support in favor of this branch; the National proposes 1%.

The idea is on the program of the Federal Council for Culture for the next four years, in the cinema chapter. The government believes that online services, among others, should be subject to a constraint comparable to that already sacrificed by SSR and regional TV channels. He does not invent anything; such a provision is required, or will be, by several European countries. Spain, for example, is preparing a tax of 5% of local turnover.

In this context: James Bond and all MGM at Amazon? The streaming war is accelerating

The mechanism: invest or get taxed

The mechanism is based on an obligation to invest in the country. If the broadcaster does not pay it, it must pay a so-called “replacement” tax. To take the case of Netflix, the legal threat becomes theoretical in certain countries, the big ones, where the market giant is increasing its local projects in films and series anyway. Amazon is doing the same this year in Germany and France, Disney will follow.

Fearing a postponement on subscription bills, the National Council was convinced by a strong lowering of the bar: 1%. “It will be difficult to do something with a tool so much amputated”, pleaded Alain Berset, also Federal Councilor for Culture. The UDC pleaded for a near-compromise at 2%, which “already opens very good prospects for Swiss cinema”, according to Jacob Stark (UDC / TG), quoted by the ATS agency.

Obviously, the PLR ​​tipped the scales. Zurich’s Ruedi Noser hit the nail on the head by arguing that keeping the minimum of 4% allows “to see new players appear”. Especially since the conditions for valuing efforts, to avoid the tax, seem fairly generous. Thus, support for institutions approved by the Federal Office of Culture – we are thinking of festivals – could be taken into account.

Read also: The online series war begins

A context of all-out taxes

The National will have to resume the debate. This is part of a very favorable economic context for new broadcasters, with Netflix still growing even if it suffers from competition, Disney + exceeding all expectations in terms of acquiring subscribers, Amazon placing its marbles, and Apple offering its service to anyone who buys an iPhone (which makes a lot of people in Switzerland)

While, drawn by a Biden administration in search of new revenues, European countries suddenly seem ready to impose a minimum tax rate on the profits of multinationals, the idea of ​​a grab from the entertainment giants becomes commonplace. .


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