French President wants Internet Tax

Never slow to burnish his reputation as an iconoclast, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed funding France's state-owned television stations by taxing an activity economists and communications experts have come to consider almost sancrosanct: the use of the internet. The announcement came Tuesday during Sarkozy's first full-blown solo press conference at the Elysée palace. As part of his plan for rationalizing the state's sprawling audiovisual empire, the President suggested "we consider the total suppression of advertising on public channels", and that income lost from the ad ban be compensated in part by "an infinitesimal sales tax on new communication methods, like internet access and mobile telephony." Freeing state television stations from ratings-sensitive advertising, Sarkozy said, would allow public TV to quit trying to match the popular but mind-numbing game shows and reality television that now dominate the schedules of private broadcasters for what Sarkozy called "purely mercantile" reasons.

Instead, public broadcasters could focus on quality documentary, educational, and fiction programming. "This is a revolution that, by changing the economic model of public television, would change the entire nature of cultural policy in our communication society," Sarkozy said. The snag in the idea is that taxing web use is widely stigmatized as a sure way to stunt economic growth. "Generally speaking, taxing the Internet is considered a bad idea, and a potential brake to net use and development," says Audrey Mandela, founder of the independent London consulting agency Mandela Associates. "But without knowing the details of the French proposal, it's difficult to say how problematic an Internet tax there would be."

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36 Comments

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State run TVs are huge inefficient money sucking monsters. Usually commercial TV's (like "Discovery") produce/show much better production for less amount of money.

So, let me see if I got this right:

He wants to remove advertisement (that you don't pay for, the TV companies do), by levying a tax on Consumers or ISPs?

I'm glad I'm in the UK!

I don't think that the viewers tastes are solely determined by what's aired on tv. Moreover, if there's demand for tv reality, why impose something else instead of it (intelectual or not)?

A more democratic approach would be to adapt the public broadcasters' program to what's successful and popular, a reflection of what the people want, whether Mr. Sarkozy likes it or not. Doing otherwise sounds snobbish to me.

I'm french and Sarkozy is just STUPID !!!!!!!!!!! Instead of trying to tax teh internet he should be taxed every ****ing time time he says stuff like that !!!!!!! And let me remind you that his idea of banning ads from public TV is just a gift to his friends mr Bouygues , who owns TF1 and Mr Bolloré who owns some stupid and crappy channels on DvB !

SO SCREW HIM !!!!!

I like the fact they banned TV ads for the feature movie at night. But spewing **** at the face of people saying Sarkozy only did this on purpose, only to give more power to private channels, is just showing how dumb some French really are. If you spent more time analyzing decisions of this government and less time shouting inane comments about how Sarkozy sucks and has powerful friends, maybe you could be allowed to speak. In the mean time, please log off the Internet, kthxbye.

Nice crapload of negative comments from ignorant people who don't even have the slightest idea of how things work over there and just pick on the 1st opportunity to bash them frogs.

-1st, just as in UK, the French pay what they call a Redevance to fund public TV channels
-2nd, where do you think the 1.2 Bilion Euro generated through advertising space on french public tv channels will go? Advertisers will always want to be seen, they'll just go to the private broadcasters, whom oh the coincidence, will raise prices AND will be taxed on these sales according to the law proposition.
-3rd, as part of the propositions, that so called Redevance would be entirely lifted, that's around 120 or 130 euros for every household where a TV is present, including secondary residences. Moreover, while most households have a TV, not all do have Internet access, let alone a computer, all these, admitedly, poor people would make quite an economy in that regard.
- Regarding the internet tax as you call it, it wouldn't be imposed on sales, but on access plans, therefore ppl would only pay it once per month, and according to the preliminary reports would be between 1 and 3 euros per month maximum, nothing is known about what will be imposed on mobile phone plans
- when it comes to programming quality, well yea it would tremendously improve, mechanically even, I would say.. ppl don't want to watch that? no problem, just let them lay their brains next to the couch and switch to the other channels, watch whatever they like, reality shows and whatnot..
- and last but not least, it has nothing to do with controlling behaviors, it's all about public service quality, see the BBC, they produce some of the best documentaries in the world among other things, my bet is they want to imitate that on a slightly wider scale and shift most the burden of funding from the whole population to the private sector and ppl wealthy enough to have the net or mobile phone (yea mobile phones ain't expensive I know...)

say what now? do you think the french are still that stupid? I don't think so

Once put like that it sounds like a not bad idea, In most countries your already paying tax on the Internet, you pay sales taxes on your ISP fee's.

People should read the fine print before freaking out over the headline.

If it's a state run TV, why not just mandate that it produce "quality programming"? Surely documentaries and other shows produced to such high standards will draw the attention of many viewers without the need for new taxes. How about something even more progressive, such as *gasp* not having a state-run media station at all, and let the public fund it with donations? Would that not be the more democratic thing to do, rather than shoving a tax down the throat of anyone using modern communication systems?

I hardly think the French are stupid and I thought my post above was pretty clear on that issue. To reiterate it for you: I think people, be them French, American, or any other nationality, who watch reality TV are stupid. Oh, and yes, when the government changes "the economic model of public television" to "change the entire nature of cultural policy in our communication society" it's about controlling behaviors. Even if it's For The Greater Good™.

I like this idea too, most Television is crap today. Too many dancing, singing and boring reality shows. If all the advertisements were banished and this increased the quality of the programming, I think it would be a great choice.

Some people may not agree, but this would also bring the family together more as well, because when you're on the computer you isolate yourself.

i'm on the internet more and more because what I see on TV sucks, and interests me very little. i'd be pretty upset if they tried that crap in the states, taxing me to pay for crap I'm trying to get away from...

Did you not read the article at all! That's the point, so the quality of televised programs can be improved. I bet some people don't even bother to read the full thing and just can't wait to post something negative.

Popcorned said,
I like this idea too, most Television is crap today. Too many dancing, singing and boring reality shows. If all the advertisements were banished and this increased the quality of the programming, I think it would be a great choice.

Some people may not agree, but this would also bring the family together more as well, because when you're on the computer you isolate yourself.

Did you not read the article at all! That's the point, so the quality of televised programs can be improved. I bet some people don't even bother to read the full thing and just can't wait to post something negative.

And perhaps what you're not seeing is that the government shouldn't try to control behavior. Crappy television is on because - surprise - people watch and even like it. Stopping advertisers to stop ****ty TV to stop stupid behavior is simply flat out...stupid!

I don't claim to know how to convince the throngs of crappy followers of "reality" TV to stop watching such inane shows. Maybe there's no solution. Not everyone should go to college. Not everyone can be above average. Some people are just stupid and there's not a damn thing the rest of us can do.

And if that were the case, I'd agree, it is a good idea. But it won't be the case. Experience should tell us that that television stations will still produce the cheapest television they can get away with, and that is reality crap and other mind-numbing drivvle that doesn't involve paying for real stars.

Nobody I know wakes up and thinks "I know, I think I'll make less money for myself this year.", and while that is the case, television companies and others like them will continue to fill their own pockets at the expense of others.

The thing is, French public TV is a bunch of old German TV shows, some news, an somewhat old and not so good movie at 9, and more TV shows. And 70s-80s TV films. They want more money for that? Screw it, I'm not paying any tax for that.
Public TV here only buys shows and basically, a few exceptions aside, broadcast whatever is done in other countries. Not that we want to see more clones of US TV shows, ruined by half-assed french actors.

I think that the global feeling of French Internet users will be like "Geez, we pay already 120€ a year not to watch these channels, 120€ which are embedded in local taxes to be sure nobody will escape paying it, and they want other fundings? Screw it, you won't get any more money from me, France Télévisions."

Miles Acton said,
and he calls himself a conservative?

Yes, he supports rich people, and rich people can afford this whereas working class can't so from that the internet in france is now a luxury for rich people

n_K said,

Yes, he supports rich people, and rich people can afford this whereas working class can't so from that the internet in france is now a luxury for rich people

a luxury for rich people? did you even read the article or try to get some additional informations? most french pay between 14 to 30 euros a month for unmettered ADSL access with speed ranging from 8 to 18 MBits, many plans even include completely free and unlimited phone calls to landlines and some international destinations
how's the internet such a luxury over there according to you?? it's an order of magnitude cheaper than most of you pay in the UK and the US!

Arkos Reed said,
a luxury for rich people? did you even read the article or try to get some additional informations? most french pay between 14 to 30 euros a month for unmettered ADSL access with speed ranging from 8 to 18 MBits, many plans even include completely free and unlimited phone calls to landlines and some international destinations
how's the internet such a luxury over there according to you?? it's an order of magnitude cheaper than most of you pay in the UK and the US!

he wants to make the internet a luxury, it isn't at the moment but he wants to do that. Maybe no-one has relised that conservative stands for GO RICH and stfu poor ? Look at prat-ther in the 80s/90s coalmine things, she basically ****ed up the UK economy

An equally leveled response on that same level of intelligence would be,

'If Americans stopped interferring with the rest of the world, we wouldn't care what they did either.'

Absolutely stupid ... firstly internet and TV are totally different, its like suggesting by going to the cinema I should pay for operas ...

Secondly, don't most of us already pay tax on getting the internet? Its called VAT/sales tax, although admitedly some ISPs avoid tax - with Sky Broadband you pay tax to the Luxembourg government not the British, with AOL in Europe - you don't have any tax and it all goes back to the US.

he wants to tax the internet to fund television shows...? i'm on the internet more and more because what I see on TV sucks, and interests me very little. i'd be pretty upset if they tried that crap in the states, taxing me to pay for crap I'm trying to get away from...

Julius Caro said,
He'd be better off using UK's model

But that's not a French idea, and the French insist on doing things in a backasswards way

Next he will want to tax "french frys" to to cripple the World Economy... MUHAHHAHA..... MUhahahahah... muuuhahahah....