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Swiss voters decide to impose levy on streaming giants
They are set to approve of the 'Lex Netflix' TV streaming funding law.

Swiss flag beside image of Netflix logo

Swiss voters decide to impose levy on streaming giants such as Netflix.
Source: Variety

News from this week suggest that international video streaming services are set to face a compulsory investment in the Swiss film industry.This was after the nationwide referendum on the issue from Sunday, May 15. The final results indicate that 58.4% of voters came out supporting the parliamentary decision to implement the Swiss film law.

On the other hand, only rural areas in the German speaking side of the country voted against this investment. Pollsters, however, expected a rather close race between the opponents and supporters. The opponents had visibly warned of a state intervention in a free market economy, along with price hikes for customers. On Sunday, May 15, the turnout was below average after a campaign which, in turn was overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.

Reactions included opponents saying that the outcome was a ‘respectable achievement’ for the referendum committee which comprises the youth wings of as much as three political parties. On the other hand, supporters referred to the result as a boost for diversity in the cultural field, and for public services. They pointed how Switzerland was following the legislations on streaming platforms in other countries in Europe.

Alain Berset, the interior minister stated that the result was good news for the film industry. He pointed how the result indicated the ‘importance voters attribute to culture.’ Berset confirmed that the legal amendment would be fully implemented in 2024, with platforms getting four yers in hand to adapt their investment plans accordingly. He emphasised the necessity of new rules for digital transformation, along with increasing importance of streaming platform operators.

Obligation:

The reform of the Swiss law was essentially an obligation for platforms, specifically ones from the US. They were obligated to invest up to 4% of their revenues from the country in the production of content in Switzerland. Moreover, it also requires a minimum of 30% of the content to be produced in Europe. According to estimates from the Federal Office of Culture, the extra yearly contribution adds upto CHF 18 million, with direct state funding coming to CHF 39 million.

Referendum:

In September 2021, the parliament approved this reform. However, opponents collected ample amount of signatures to force a nationwide referendum on it. They presented their argument stating that quotas and obligations were harmful to the economic freedom of consumers and producers. They added that it would not guarantee high quality productions either, rather leading to increase in prices.

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