French authorities vote to end the local annual television license fee

France’s National Assembly has formally voted to end the €138 annual television license fee (locally known as “contribution pour l'audiovisuel public”) in favor of a VAT increase.

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France’s National Assembly has formally voted to end the €138 annual television license fee (locally known as “contribution pour l'audiovisuel public”) in favor of a VAT increase. The bill, which was passed over the weekend with 170 members of the French Parliament in favor and 57 opposed, follows president Emmanuel Macron’s decision to make the end of the license fee a key pledge in his re-election campaign to “give back purchasing power.”

Once in effect, public broadcasting in the country will be financed by “a fraction” of VAT for a total of around €3.7 billion. The existing license fee, which funds France Télévisions, Radio France, Arte, and international media such as France 24 and RFI, will bring in €3.2 billion in 2022.

“We are working hard to abolish taxes that weigh on people,”  declared Gabriel Attal, Minister of Public Action and Accounts of France. “We are very attached to our public broadcasting system. The change would not jeopardize the funding or the independence of public broadcasting,”  Attal added.

Nevertheless, concerns were raised about how the new funding model would impact the independence and financial stability of public news organizations. In fact, staff at France Télévisions and Radio France went on strike last month in protest at the scrapping of the license fee, which according to them would threaten the independence of the channels it funds.