Catalonia to charge internet connection levy to fund movie industry

Regional government unfazed by vocal opposition from carriers

Starting this summer, Catalonia will charge telecom operators a fee that will help finance the Catalan film industry.

Every contract for an internet connection will cost carriers 25 cents of a euro a month, or three euros a year. The Catalan government expects to raise 20.5 million euros a year to fund the local film and television sector and help spread digital culture.

In any case, the fee may not be passed on to customers, noted Catalan culture commissioner Ferran Mascarell on Tuesday, when the regional government’s Executive Council approved the wording of the draft legislation. “It is a similar model to those in other neighboring countries, which usually combine funds from the public budgets with specific fees,” he said. “In Germany these fees represent 35 percent of resources. In France they contribute 89 percent.”

Over a year ago, the film industry underscored the need to raise revenue through a tax of some kind to offset dwindling public subsidies and the effects of online piracy and the VAT hike.

“We must maintain the competitiveness of a very important, significant sector in Catalonia that represents 2,000 companies, 12,000 jobs and an annual turnover of 2.5 billion euros,” said Mascarell.

Despite vocal opposition from the major operators, including Telefónica-Movistar, Ono, Vodafone and Jazztel, who argued they were already paying a similar fee at the state level, the Catalan government has decided to go ahead with its plans and will soon be sending the proposal to the regional assembly for approval.

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