Yes, it’s true, France is trying to impose another tax upon Facebook, Google and YouTube. Strangely though it’s not going to be a tax to try and fill the yawning budget deficit the country has, nor to reduce the debt mountain: no, it’s going to go into subsidies for all those French films that no one ever watches. Which is, of course, why they need subsidy.
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The actual announcement is here but given that none of us can be bothered to learn French these days this might be a better source:
France’s Superior Council of Audiovisual, an independent broadcasting authority, wants to impose taxes on media giants like YouTube, Facebook and Dailymotion to force them to contribute to financing French culture.
The sites fall into the same category as video-on-demand services, the organization said; so they would be subject to French cultural protection laws that require distributors to hand over some of their revenues to help subsidize productions.
The basic background here is that the French are so proud and so confident of the superiority of their culture that they fear it will be wiped out by all these imports of American and other “Anglo” productions. They thus have various limits on how many of these imports there can be: even to the point that in the past they have had exemptions from the standard European Union strictures on the free movement of goods and services. They’ve even got a law stating that English cannot be used in advertising: this named after the Minister that brought it in, Jack Allgood. As you can no doubt divine, these are the actions of a society entirely confident in the superiority of their own productions.
One of the things that the country does to underpin the undoubted superiority of French language and French based productions is it taxes all those that are not that are shown in the country. This cash is then recycled into the French arts bureaucracy in order to finance those novels in which people complain about the difficulty they have with hard cheese, the films in which three characters sit off screen and discuss their plans for a love affair if only the scriptwriter would produce a plot, the anomie engendered by having to learn irregular verbs and so on.
What is being suggested here is that given that Google (and now Facebook as well) are showing videos in France to French people then they should be counted as distributors of them and thus be subject to this tax. There is just one small problem with this:
The obstacle which remains, though, is the fact that the legislation is only applicable to websites that are based in France.
It might even be that parts of Google, YouTube, Facebook, are indeed based in France. But all of the ad revenue is booked through Ireland. A place which the perceptive will have noted is not actually in France. So there’s no local revenue to be taxed in the first place.
Oh well. Perhaps, if the French want to subsidise their stunning array of artistes, the French should actually tax the French to do so?
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