U.K. agrees on tax to back broadband

Move designed to boost creative industries

A £6 ($10) levy on fixed phone lines to fund the roll-out of high-speed broadband networks was greenlit Wednesday by the U.K. government.

The tax will be used to ensure that 90% of the population has access to next-generation broadband by 2017.

Announcing the move, the government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said, “We are modernizing the U.K.’s digital infrastructure and, in the process, creating thousands more skilled jobs.”

However, critics of the tax, announced in summer’s “Digital Britain” report, said rolling out broadband to remote areas of Blighty should be left to the market and not subsidized by the public.

The announcement was made in Darling’s pre-budget report, which sets out government spending.

Vidgamers were disappointed when it failed to implement another proposal outlined in “Digital Britain.”

The plan to introduce a “cultural tax break” to help the local vidgame sector and prevent U.K. game creators relocating to countries like Canada and France, where tax incentives exist for the games industry, was nixed.

The omission was condemned by reps of the U.K. games biz.

“The government has shown itself willing to support the U.K. film industry through tax breaks … the U.K. video games industry is inherently successful … and has the potential to be world beating,” said Richard Wilson, head of Tiga, the Independent Games Developers Assn.

“The government must invest in the industry if it wants it to remain world beating.”

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