France may extend TV licence fee to computer screens
Culture minister says government is considering making those who own a computer screen but no television pay up
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 1 July 2012 11.47 EDT
A survey said more than 11 million French people watch television programmes on computer screens, tablets or smart phones. Photograph: RubberBall / Alamy/Alamy
The French government is considering extending the television licence fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues for public-sector broadcasting operations, the culture minister said on Saturday.
President François Hollande's Socialist government aims to raise an extra €7.5bn (£6bn) this year through tax rises included in an amended budget bill to be unveiled next week.
"Is it necessary to extend the fee to [computer] screens when you do not have a television? It is a question we're asking ourselves, but obviously it would be a fee per household and you would not have to pay an [additional] fee if you have a computer and a television," Aurélie Filippetti said on RTL radio.
She said the government would study the new measure in 2013.
The licence fee – €125 in mainland France and €80 in its overseas territories – is used to finance public television and radio.
According to a Global TV survey in March, more than 11 million French people watch television programmes on computer screens, tablets or smart phones, a rise of 41% on 2011.
The prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on 28 June announced plans to cut staff at most ministries by 2.5% annually for the next three years and reduce the government's operating costs in 2014 and 2015 as it seeks to reduce its budget deficit to meet EU targets.