France may start taxing Internet advertising revenues from online giants such as Google, using the funds to support creative industries that have been hit by the digital revolution, reports Liberation.
Culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand launched the ‘mission Zelnik’ in September, comprising Patrick Zelnik, CEO of independent music label Naïve, Jacques Toubon, former minister of culture and Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Sotheby’s France.
The proposal put forward is the country’s latest challenge to the virtual free-for-all for internet content. The country has previously caused controversy with some of the world’s harshest laws on online piracy.
The levy, which would also apply to other operators such as MSN and Yahoo, would put an end to “enrichment without any limit or compensation,” newspaper Liberation quoted Guillaume Cerutti, one of the authors of the report, as saying.
It would apply even if the operator had its offices outside France, as long as the Internet users who click on ad banners or sponsored links are here, the paper said.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will give his views on the recommendations today. The French government takes an active role in supporting the press, having spent €1.2 billion in 2008 on schemes such as free newspapers for young people. The government is also a major shareholder in news agency Agence France-Presse.
The question is, will any of these proposals realistically help save offline newspapers?