France looks at second tax on TV sports

France is considering extending its current taxation of premium TV sports by including events whose rights are held abroad. This would require an amendment to the country’s 2000 Finance Act, under which 5 percent of the value of broadcasting rights for sporting events or competitions organized in France is levied in tax. This brings in around €43 million a year for the National Centre for the Development of Sport (NSDC) from events such as the Tour de France, but leaves almost €14 million a year in revenue outside the net. The missing amount is what would be paid at that 5 percent rate for distribution of sporting events whose rights are held in other countries. These include European football events such as the Champions League organized by EUFA, headquartered in Geneva, and the Six Nations rugby football tournament, with rights in Dublin, Ireland.

Hardest hit by the tax would be state broadcaster France Télévisions, with others affected including private stations such as TF1, M6 and Canal+, along with a few dedicated sports broadcasters. The move would come as no surprise in a country addicted to taxation, especially since the election of the current socialist government in May 2012. President Hollande’s regime moved to tax computer ownership soon after its election to raise additional revenues for public service broadcasting.

Then in May 2013, the government endorsed a proposal to tax smartphones, tablets and all other internet-connected devices, while extending the existing taxes on foreign video-streaming firms, to help fund the production of French cinema, music and literature. This proposal recommends a tax of about 4 percent on the sale of all devices, including gaming consoles and e-readers, that allow access to multimedia content via the Internet.

This same report included around 80 recommendations to target CE makers such as Apple, Samsung and Sony, along with the big online video suppliers such as YouTube. This coincided with the government’s intervention to block a bid by Yahoo to acquire 75 percent of France Telecom video site Dailymotion, the “YouTube” of France.