Adult industry on the rise despite new porno tax

The grim economic outlook seems to be prompting a rise in the number of Italian viewers turning to porn on pay TV.

The number of folks shelling out to watch a pay-per-view porn pic on the 26 Hot Club channels beamed by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia satcaster has been growing lately, generating a hefty intake of some $2.6 million per week, according to financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. The take is at least 10 times that of Sky’s regular on-demand movies.

Curiously, when the financial crisis hit the country in late 2008, one of the Silvio Berlusconi government’s first measures was to introduce a 25% “porno tax” as part of an “anticrisis” bill to help replenish the country’s drying coffers.

Rather than despair, this caused Conto TV, a growing digital terrestrial on-demand paybox whose core business is porn, to take the tax in stride. It aired a cheeky spot urging Italians to “contribute to saving the Italian economy” by becoming customers.

The proliferation of porn is, in fact, a widely expected ripple effect of Italy’s planned switchover from analog to digital terrestrial TV that will cause a proliferation of channels by 2012.

The government made the porn tax appealing to the arts community by assuring the hard-hit Italian film industry it would receive a portion of the revenue in the form of added film subsidies.

But that prospect seems to be rapidly evaporating. Paolo Protti, head of Italy’s exhib org Anec, recently complained that “contrary to what the tax was supposed to entail, its intake will not benefit our sector.”

Apparently, instead of forking over to the film industry some of the porn tax coin reaped in these first few months as promised, the government is pocketing the entire roughly $80 million haul.

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