Pay TV operators hit with levy

LISBON — The Portuguese parliament has approved a film bill extending levies to pay TV operators and forcing broadcasters to invest more in film.

Free-to-air broadcasters, who currently pay a 4% levy on advertising income, must also cough up an extra 1.5% of their revenues.

A subscriber levy will be imposed on pay TV operators, which is expected to generate an extra €8.5 million ($10.5 million) a year.

The bill has provoked fierce criticism from the two main commercial channels, TVI and SIC, since they claim it will force them to cut their investment in TV fiction.

The Portuguese film institute, ICA, will be the main beneficiary. Its annual budget will almost double to $33 million, enabling it to honor its existing commitments. It will also launch funding competitions, which have been frozen since the start of the year.

The bill is subject to votes on specific details but as it’s backed by the ruling center-right coalition and the Socialist Party it’s unlikely to change significantly.

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