French consider computer TV tax

July 9, 2012

France’s recently elected socialist government wants to tax computer ownership to raise additional revenues for public service broadcasting. French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti has indicated her government will make the move next year, probably with a two-tier system.

Currently, French households pay €125 a year if they own a TV set, and the new proposal is likely to include different fees for owning a TV, computer, and both together. Since almost as many households own some form of computer as a TV, it is effectively a tax increase disguised as a way of funding broadcasting, and has been criticized as anti-competitive, since it could effectively penalize small businesses.

Many other European countries also require licenses for viewing linear TV, as opposed to catch-up services, irrespective of the device used. But, the difference is that a single license covers all viewing in other countries, no matter how many and which devices a household has. The French proposal is considered sneaky because it sets out to levy an additional charge for owning a computer, whose primary purpose may be for work.

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