In October 2021, Switzerland’s government created a law requiring online streaming services to pay money into a Swiss cinema fund. Under the law, from 2024, streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ will need to pay a levy equivalent to 4% of their Swiss turnover into the fund, which would be spent on producing Swiss films.
A group of young politicians objecting to the 4% surcharge on streaming services decided to organise a referendum to have the law thrown out. In Switzerland, a vote can be called to reverse parliamentary legislation if 50,000 signatures can be collected within 100 days, a period that ran out on 20 January 2022. According to RTS, the initiators managed to collect around 65,000 signatures before the deadline. If sufficient signatures are valid it will clear the way for a vote on the subject on 15 May 2022.
The organisers of the vote argue that everyone will be forced to pay via their subscriptions for content that will be of interest to only a niche audience. They also argues that regular viewers should not be funding culture. That is a role for government. Via the federal government, Swiss taxpayers currently give CHF 100 million to the Swiss film industry each year.
Those in support of the law argue that most other European nations have similar measures and don’t view the charges as a tax. Some argue the current level of support for Swiss cinema is too low. Doing nothing will allow the American giants to drain the Swiss market, says Cinésuisse, a Swiss cinema and audiovisual association.