France’s TV landscape could soon be transformed after it emerged that plans to scrap the country’s annual audiovisual licence fee are set to be introduced later this year.
The proposal, which was part of recently re-elected president Emmanuel Macron’s election pledges, will see the €138 ($143) annual charge applied to households with a TV, scrapped.
The tax brings in around €3bn each year, which is used to fund France Télévisions’ output, including France 2, France 3, France 5 and Arte. It also supports Radio France operations, as well as international offerings such as France 24 and RFI.
The tax had been collected at the same time as local housing tax (taxe d’habitation), which itself has been tapering off in recent years. It is set to end in 2023.
Full details of the TV licence fee changes remain scant, but Bruno Le Maire, France’s minister of the economy, told ministers last week that the “contribution to public broadcasting will be permanently abolished this year”.
A bill to ratify the decision set to be introduced in June and Le Maire added that financing of public broadcasting “will be ensured in compliance with the constitutional objective of pluralism and independence of the media”.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, added that the “financing of public audiovisual media is guaranteed” and said France Télévisions would to be privatised.
It is not clear how the broadcaster, nor its radio counterpart, will be funded once the current licence fee is abolished, however.
France Télévisions’ budget has been under pressure for years and just last year the broadcaster kept France 4 on the air after an intervention from Macron.
The pubcaster has also become increasingly active in coproductions, notably with drama scheme The Alliance, which has seen it partner with German pubcaster ZDF and Italian counterpart Rai on shows such as Survivor and Around The World In 80 Days.
The changes are the latest set to transform the French TV landscape, following a raft of domestic regulations introduced recently to ensure content investment from global streamers such as Netflix and Amazon. France’s TV industry is also bracing itself for the proposed merger of M6 and TF1.