Could the BBC – or Channel 4 – be funded by a tax on web and mobile?

Could the BBC be funded by a tax on web and mobile? In France President Sarkozy has just announced that, from next year,

“prime-time advertising on public television will be phased out, with the lost revenues to be replaced by taxes collected from internet, mobile phone and commercial broadcasting companies

“Internet and mobile operators will have to stump up a tax of 0.9 percent of sales—which could raise up to 380 million euros ($595 million), in support of the state-owned France Televisions, which controls the country’s four public channels. A further 80 million euros ($125 million) will come from taxes on commercial broadcasters.”

Given the potential future insecurity of the licence fee in a converged media world, you’d be forgiven for wondering how many MPs, Ofcom bosses and BBC eyes will be looking across the channel to see how and if this works – not to mention Channel 4 as they angle for their piece of the future public pie with 4iP.

Next up: newspapers call for a tax on Google. Oh, sorry, they already did that.

Your thoughts invited…

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7 thoughts on “Could the BBC – or Channel 4 – be funded by a tax on web and mobile?

  1. Craig McGinty

    Call me a cynic but one of the main beneficiaries of this move by Sarkozy will be private TV companies, the biggest of which TF1 is part-owned by Martin Bouygues, who is godfather to Sarkozy’s youngest son, Louis.

    Upon this news being announced shares in TF1 and another private broadcaster M6 enjoyed a bit of a spike.

    And the coup de grâce? A tax on internet companies in a country that has one of the lowest levels of internet penetration amongst the major EU players:

  2. David North

    I’ve just been talking about the BBC overspending on their web portal so this sort of runs parallel.

    As I’ve said I have no problem paying the license fee as I really feel the BBC delivers a unique quality service.

    However I don’t think everyone agrees and the thought of taxation to replace it will just make more people talk about scrapping it altogether.

    As long as the tax is proportionate I don’t have issue – the BBC do a lot more for the country than produce TV programmes. Without “the unique way they are funded” I don’t think the BBC would work in the way they currently do which means initiatives like Freeview and iPlayer may never have appeared. This kind of innovation is good for the entire industry as it pushes the limits.

  3. Neil McIntosh

    There has been talk, in the recent past, of a PC tax in the UK…

    I agree with David that the BBC does many splendid things, but would take issue over iPlayer not happening without tax funding; US television companies appear to be finding the commercial rationale for their own efforts without public money or subscription fees from users – is pretty good.

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