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French Parliament Turns Down Bill to Tax Online Video Platforms

DIJON, France — The French parliament has ruled against a bill which was passed on Oct. 12 by the finance committee of the French legislature’s lower house to tax online video platforms, including YouTube and Dailymotion.

The bill, coined “YouTube tax,” would have required platforms distributing free and premium video content such as YouTube to pay 2% of their ad revenues in order to help finance local content. The first 70 million euros ($77 million) raised by the levy would have gone to the National Film Board (CNC). Any amount above that would have been deposited into state coffers.

The bill was pushed by a trio of Socialist deputies: Karine Berger, Bruno Le Roux, and Pierre-Alain Muet. Berger, who was attending a debate hosted by the ARP (the French guild of authors, directors, and producers) during its annual conference in Dijon, said the bill had been voted against by deputies from the right wing.

Speaking to Variety, Pascal Rogard, the president of the SACD (Society of Authors, Composers, and Directors) said the bill will be re-examined by the Senate as part of the budget law during the last quarter of this year. If passed, the measure would then have to get approval from the European Commission.

The bill is ultimately aimed at taxing the global digital giants — Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — that have been distributing their content in France, but have not been subjected to investment quotas for local content, as French companies have.

However, deputies who have voted against the bill said it would have to be extended to all of Europe because these global giants often have headquarters abroad — in Ireland, for instance — and can avoid paying taxes on the totality of their revenues in France.

Google, for instance, is being sued by France’s tax administration and was asked in February to pay 1.6 billion euros in back taxes to the French government.

In a statement released today, ARP said that “having content distributors contribute to the financing of content was rooted in the philosophy which has helped French culture to flourish.” The org also argued that getting the law voted in France could be a good starting point to encourage other countries to follow the same footsteps.

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