The Swiss vote on the “Netflix tax”


On May 15, 2022, Swiss voters will vote on an amendment to the Federal Law on Film Production and Film Culture.

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels.com

In Switzerland, national television channels are required to invest 4% of their turnover in Swiss film production.

However, films and series are increasingly offered by global companies via streaming services such as Netflix. These international companies are currently not legally subject to the same obligation to provide money to the Swiss film industry.

To include global streamers, the government amended the Swiss Film Law. The amendment allows companies to put the money directly or into an umbrella fund.

In addition, these international media operators must ensure that 30% of the content presented in Switzerland is produced in Europe.

However, as is often the case, more than 50,000 signatures were collected, paving the way for a public vote to overturn the government’s legislative change, what organizers call the “Netflix Tax”.

Voting organizers argue that through their subscriptions, everyone will be forced to pay for content that will only appeal to a niche audience. They also argue that the government, not regular viewers, should fund culture. Netflix is ​​already more than 40% more expensive in Switzerland than in Germany and Swiss taxpayers donate 100 million francs to the Swiss film industry every year.

Proponents of the law do not view the levy as a tax. Rather, they see it as supporting the local culture. The government is strongly in favor of the change, arguing that it corrects the unequal treatment between global and local broadcasters and helps digital transition.

The Federal Council, Parliament (127 for, 67 against and 3 abstentions) and the Council of States (32 for, 8 against and 4 abstentions) are all in favor of extending the 4% tax to international streaming services.

Recent polls conducted in May 2022 show a moderate majority (56%) of voters in favor of the levy with 37% in favor and 19% somewhat in favor of the government amendment.

More on this:
Official voting information (in French) – Take a 5-minute French test now

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