Canuck TV networks were celebrating Friday following a ground-breaking court decision that will save them more than C$100 million ($86 million) a year.
On Thursday, Federal Court judge Michel J. Shore ruled that the license fees the broadcasters pay to the Canadian government are an illegal tax.
The fees are levied by broadcast regulator the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and go into the general government coffers.
These fees are on top of payments the networks make to the CRTC to cover the cost of regulating the industry.
Judge Shore noted that under Canadian law, the CRTC does not have the authority to collect taxes, and he wrote that “one of the most fundamental principles of Canadian law is that taxes must be levied only with the authority of Parliament.”
The judge went on to underline that the taxes were draining money out of the broadcast industry.
“This is a monumental victory for Canada’s broadcasters, who have been forced for too long to pay an unfair and unjustified tax,” said Glenn O’Farrell, CEO of the Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters. “These fees have drained more than three-quarters of a billion dollars out of our broadcasting system since 1997.”
The court ruling does not include an order for the government to repay the networks the coin. The Canadian Assn. of Broadcasters has yet to decide whether it will go back to court to get that money paid back.