French minister: Hit Netflix, Google, Apple et al with bandwidth tax

Won't someone think of le French film industry!

France's culture minister is as keen as ever to tax tech behemoths to "level the playing field" for French TV and filmmakers.

According to news reports, Fleur Pellerin plans to introduce a new tax on "the use of bandwidth", although exactly how this will be calculated is not clear.

Back in 2013, when she was the country's digital economy minister, Pellerin told the Financial Times that "she was looking at data transfer, traffic and interconnection to work out where the big internet companies were making their money".

In January, the minister said she wanted a "level playing field "for French broadcasters alongside the likes of Netflix. The news was welcomed by some ISPs who want to offer so-called specialised services – basically incorporating lots more speed and bandwidth.

It's common practice for web giants to be headquartered in the lowest tax domain available while their services mop up bandwidth in countries such as France. According to Irep (the Institute of Advertising Research) Google paid just €7.7m in taxes on €1.6bn of advertising revenue in France in 2013.

However, with the latest EU Telecoms Package currently under discussion, a new law on net neutrality could throw a pretty big spanner in the works.

Pellerin's office has not released any details on the plans.

In January 2013, France put off plans to force Google and other web giants to help it build its broadband networks. ®

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