French MPs vote to scrap public TV licence fee

·2-min read
AFP - CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT

France’s National Assembly on Saturday approved a measure to scrap the TV licence fee as part of a drive to boost purchasing power. Public broadcasting will in future be financed by VAT.

The National Assembly voted on Saturday to scrap the 138 euro levy - which finances public broadcasting - as part of its plans to boost purchasing power – a central theme during recent elections.

The measure passed with 170 MPs in favour and 57 against, during the first reading of the so-called 'rectifying finance bill' for 2022. The right-wing Republicans (LR) and the far-right National Rally (RN) voted in favour and the left alliance Nupes unanimously against.

Amendments from the majority (Ensemble !) and LR were adopted to allocate "a fraction" of the VAT - about 3.7 billion euros.

During this often turbulent session, public accounts minister Gabriel Attal expressed his attachment to "a strong public audiovisual sector", while describing this fee based on the ownership of a television set as "obsolete" in the age of tablets and other smartphones.

The future of public broadcasting

The move raises many concerns about the independence and future financing of French public news organisations.

The main objections came from Nupes coalition. For Inaki Echaniz (Socialist Party), this scrapping is a "bad idea" that will harm stable funding. Alexis Corbière (France Unbowed, LFI) stressed that guaranteeing "the independence of public broadcasting is a condition of democracy".

Culture minister Rima Abdul-Malak, on the other hand, argued that "it is not the licence fee that guarantees independence" but Arcom (ex-CSA), the body that appoints the heads of public broadcasting.

The Left also accused the government of taking inspiration from the far-right to eventually dismantle public broadcasting.

Marine Le Pen (RN) said that "the government's project has nothing to do with what we want to do", namely a proper "privatisation".

(with AFP)

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