France’s Web Tax Policy Panned By EC Media Commissioner

European information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding has virtually rubbished French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to tax internet and mobile access. Sarkozy had this month proposed an “infinitesimal” tax to fund the removal of ads from public-service TV, creating a BBC-style broadcaster that would enrich French culture – his so-called “policy of civilisation”.
But Reding, speaking yesterday: “I believe the taxation of the new technology might not be the right way in order to arrive at the goal of seamless use of new communication by all citizens. (The plan is) the beginning, not the end, of the discussion.”
IHT: Reding believes the plan “runs contrary to her vision of a Europe where borderless and inexpensive access to internet and cellphone networks was the standard”. The paper takes verdicts from Paris’ NetVibes and Hamburg’s Xing, two of Europe’s biggest web players – “crazy”.
EC support is pretty crucial as much of nation states’ media policy is now generated in Brussels and implemented nationally. Reding is already awaiting responses to her consultation on creating a single pan-continental market for digital content, with the recommendation due in the summer.
France’s Senate in December rejected a proposal to impose a two percent tax on web video ad revenue. In the autumn, music and movie companies in France agreed to drop DRM and make online access easier in return for a new law that would compel ISPs to spy on high-bandwidth users to detect file sharing, with sanctions against consumers including disconnection after three strikes.