In response to complaints by Switzerland’s cinema association, Switzerland’s government created a new law requiring online streaming services to pay money into a Swiss cinema fund. A group of young politicians view the move as a tax that will ultimately be paid by consumers and is organising a referendum to have the law thrown out, reported RTS.
The new law requires streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ to pay a sum equivalent to 4% of their Swiss turnover into a fund, which will support Swiss film producers. In addition, the same streaming services will be required to ensure that at least 30% of their content is produced in the EU.
The law is designed to ensure local producers don’t lose out to foreign competition. Without the law Switzerland’s cinematic industry will progressively fade at an international level, according to Mathias Aebischer, the head of cinésuisse. Some working in the sector are already struggling financially.
However, a group of young Swiss politicians from parties including the Liberal Radical Party (PLR/FDP), Liberal Greens, Centre and Swiss Peoples Party (UDC/SVP) see it differently. They view the move as new value added tax that will ultimately be passed on to consumers. They also argue that the 30% European quota unfairly discriminates against non-EU producers and will be hard to reach.
In addition, they argue that everyone will be forced to pay for content that will be of interest to only a niche audience. The group also argues that regular viewers should not be funding culture. That is a role for government. Currently, via the federal government, Swiss taxpayers currently give CHF 100 million to the Swiss film industry each year.
According to Matthias Müller, the price of subscriptions will increase. It’s unfair, especially for young generations, he said. Viriginie Cavalli, another young politician, thinks it will drive some to illegal download sites. In addition, Cavalli calls the quota discriminatory towards non-EU producers. Support should be given based on film quality rather than where they are made, she thinks.
The organisers of the initiative have until 20 January 2022 to collect the 50,000 signatures required to launch a referendum against a new law.