Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
Why Most Investors LOST Money by Investing in ARK FUNDS - 27th Jan 22
The “play-to-earn” trend taking the crypto world by storm - 27th Jan 22
Quantum AI Stocks Investing Priority - 26th Jan 22
Is Everyone Going To Be Right About This Stocks Bear Market?- 26th Jan 22
Stock Market Glass Half Empty or Half Full? - 26th Jan 22
Stock Market Quoted As Saying 'The Reports Of My Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated' - 26th Jan 22
The Synthetic Dividend Option To Generate Profits - 26th Jan 22
The Beginner's Guide to Credit Repair - 26th Jan 22
AI Tech Stocks State Going into the CRASH and Capitalising on the Metaverse - 25th Jan 22
Stock Market Relief Rally, Maybe? - 25th Jan 22
Why Gold’s Latest Rally Is Nothing to Get Excited About - 25th Jan 22
Gold Slides and Rebounds in 2022 - 25th Jan 22
Gold; a stellar picture - 25th Jan 22
CATHY WOOD ARK GARBAGE ARK Funds Heading for 90% STOCK CRASH! - 22nd Jan 22
Gold Is the Belle of the Ball. Will Its Dance Turn Bearish? - 22nd Jan 22
Best Neighborhoods to Buy Real Estate in San Diego - 22nd Jan 22
Stock Market January PANIC AI Tech Stocks Buying Opp - Trend Forecast 2022 - 21st Jan 21
How to Get Rich in the MetaVerse - 20th Jan 21
Should you Buy Payment Disruptor Stocks in 2022? - 20th Jan 21
2022 the Year of Smart devices, Electric Vehicles, and AI Startups - 20th Jan 21
Oil Markets More Animated by Geopolitics, Supply, and Demand - 20th Jan 21
WARNING - AI STOCK MARKET CRASH / BEAR SWITCH TRIGGERED! - 19th Jan 22
Fake It Till You Make It: Will Silver’s Motto Work on Gold? - 19th Jan 22
Crude Oil Smashing Stocks - 19th Jan 22
US Stagflation: The Global Risk of 2022 - 19th Jan 22
Stock Market Trend Forecast Early 2022 - Tech Growth Value Stocks Rotation - 18th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Setting Up For A 'Mini-Crash'? - 18th Jan 22
Mobile Sports Betting is on a rise: Here’s why - 18th Jan 22
Exponential AI Stocks Mega-trend - 17th Jan 22
THE NEXT BITCOIN - 17th Jan 22
Gold Price Predictions for 2022 - 17th Jan 22
How Do Debt Relief Services Work To Reduce The Amount You Owe? - 17th Jan 22
RIVIAN IPO Illustrates We are in the Mother of all Stock Market Bubbles - 16th Jan 22
All Market Eyes on Copper - 16th Jan 22
The US Dollar Had a Slip-Up, but Gold Turned a Blind Eye to It - 16th Jan 22
A Stock Market Top for the Ages - 16th Jan 22
FREETRADE - Stock Investing Platform, the Good, Bad and Ugly Review, Free Shares, Cancelled Orders - 15th Jan 22
WD 14tb My Book External Drive Unboxing, Testing and Benchmark Performance Amazon Buy Review - 15th Jan 22
Toyland Ferris Wheel Birthday Fun at Gulliver's Rother Valley UK Theme Park 2022 - 15th Jan 22
What You Should Know About a TailoredPay High Risk Merchant Account - 15th Jan 22

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

France's Culture Tax And The Cult Of Exception

Politics / France Dec 29, 2013 - 12:14 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop

Politics

TAX INTERNET AND SMARTPHONES
Although he makes a point of not living in France and denies he does that to avoid taxes, Depardieu is an ikon for French films and the business needs money. Why it needs money is already political – since many in France say the film industry should not be subsidized – and is already complicated because film theaters and some movie and TV producers pay taxes to the government, while they and others can also receive huge grants, aid and tax rebates from the same government.


The porkbarrel is France's “cultural exception” and is certainly not going away. Hollande's government wants to increase it “to save French culture and national identity”. Or maybe only to raise taxes.

The so-called culture tax can in some cases pay Gerard Depardieu as much as a half million euros part-funding for his film fees, and totals more than €1.3 billion annually. At present it is paid by movie theaters showing non-French films, broadcasters, publishers, and some Internet service providers. The government agency handling the State's intervention in and control over films, TV, books, recorded music and other “cultural items” - the CSA – now says that any web site enabling users to look at or download video, like Facebook, YouTube and its French small-size copy DailyMotion should also be paying tax.  More radically, some members of Francois Hollande's PS government say that anybody using a smartphone, tablet or PC can potentially download videos or films, and watch French TV without paying a license fee, and so they must also pay the “culture tax”.

TAX ANYTHING THAT TWEETS
Called a separate measure by the PS government, it is actively considering the creation and levy of a new tax on smartphones, PCs and tablets in a bid to raise “about one hundred million” euros a year to support the creation of digital cultural content inside France. The proposal was handed to President Francois Hollande this summer, with a target tax of 1%, possibly rising to 4% on the sale of any Internet-compatible device, and a tax on companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon. Since then, the new culture tax has swum low in the news media, after receiving heavy criticism from industry professionals and many politicians.

Depardieu himself waded into the fray this summer. Before accepting Russian citizenship from Putin in person he said he was quitting France not to avoid taxes, but because Hollande personally insulted him, calling him “a nothing” (un minable), and because Hollande has turned the country into “a sad place”. Plenty of commentators mocked Depardieu's line that “it wasn't about taxes” but they also attack Hollande's fantastic tax creating binge. The new culture tax is just one of 80 proposals made in a report to him - only concerning  France's so-called “exception culturelle” - or the survival of its supposedly distinctive culture. Dozens of other taxes and legal barriers to “Anglosaxon culture” were also mooted in the report.  The report was written by Hollande's longtime ally in the media, Pierre Lescure, the former head of cable television channel Canal Plus and fully airs the French paranoia and sense of inferiority in a world dominated by the English language and the Internet. Delving into new ways to fight Anglosaxon culture, the proposals included a special tax on hard drive disc sizes, their memory capacity which can be used (oh gosh!) to store non-French cultural items.

The money raised by the new taxes which may include a further tax rise on movie theaters showing non-French films – despite this running against World Trade Organization rules on fair trade – would theoretically be channeled through the CSA and other government agencies to fund specially decided, government-sponsored “cultural activities”. One of these aids, the report said, would go to helping young French musicians cobble together their ersatz “French rap music”, and protect French video game makers who lose revenues on their gory junk due to free streaming or downloading of rival products from “Anglosaxon” internet sites, which give unfair support to “Anglosaxon culture”.

TAKE A TRIP TO FRANCE
Existing measures to fight Anglosaxon culture are stamped with French eccentricity. The TRIP (Tax rebate for international production) supports foreign film companies whose projects are completely or partly made in France - or which include sets or elements related to French culture, heritage, or French territory. To pass muster and receive the rebate handed down by the Film France National Commission, which heads a total of 40 commissions only in the film sector, film makers have to pass a Cultural Test. The TRIP test assesses the “French relativity of the story, locations, characters, sources, landmarks, creators, crew and the film's technical hubs” (end of citation). As of Sept 2013, these rebates can attain $13 million for a single film.

The rebate commissions have outright power to decide who gets the money – and they can operate retroactively for films made before 2011, if their expert analysts decide that really, and in fact, that unheard-of film or TV series made in China, Russia or the US, or in Gabon, Germany or Norway 3 years ago, did have French Cultural Content. Accusations of porkbarrel under-the-table kickbacks by the commissions are rife in the film and TV business.

France's cultural exception is regularly criticized as badly-disguised trade protectionism. The question was raised again by dispute surrounding the US-EU trade talks in 2013. The French government insisted that cultural products, particularly film and television, should be left out of the negotiations due to their special status “as timeless acts of artistic creation”. Hollande's government, true to its PS origins, cites the actions taken during the 14-year PS presidency of Francois Mitterand, who in 1993 was prepared to boycott the GATT (later WTO) process of trade and tariff reductions.  He said at the time: “Creations of the spirit are not commodities. Elements of culture are not pure business. Defending the pluralism of works of art......is our duty”. The duty of France is to force French audiences to watch French-made content, protect its film, TV and music business, and levy a tax on Google, Amazon and even on PC hard drives, by claiming this is the way to prevent French society “from being enslaved”.

French policy has radically hardened since the 1990s, when its own attempts at creating a Google-equivalent failed. Largely protectionist to start with, it now has a policy aimed at “saving French identity” while encouraging every form of “non Anglosaxon” cultural diversity in the world – by handing huge tax rebates to foreign film and TV producers who show a camembert cheese at key moments in their product! As early as year 2000, the new French cultural policy was defined by then-minister for culture, Parti Socialiste mandarin Catherine Trautmann, who claimed France must promote “world cultural diversity”, because this can unite nations large and small, old and new, developed and otherwise. Inside France, the new laws, taxes, grants and aid to “French culture” are seen as a way to decentralize power from Paris, encourage creativity, and even prevent young people from leaving the country en masse – opinion polls show that 50% of French university students intend emigrating the moment they get their diploma.

SOFT POWER – SOFT RESULTS
France needs to levy new and more taxes on anything to which the word “culture” can be attached because it deploys the world's largest number of cultural agencies and associations of any nation, big or small. Staffing costs for these are treated as “sensitive” or even “confidential” by the government. All imaginable domains are covered, from films, books and TV to fine arts, gastronomy, furniture making, clothes, horseracing and jewelry. The net costs are claimed as  heavily outclassed by the receipts from tourists coming to France – who supposedly also come to see French films, or even horses!

All the evidence suggests that the élites running France are in no way satisfied with the status of their country in the world, its standing, prestige or ‘soft cultural power’.

This obsession is a hand-me-down from long before Mitterand's long reign. France likes to imagine it is ‘a great power promised an exceptional destiny,” but nobody seems to notice this outside the country! Remarked by Gerard Depardieu when he was called “a nothing” by the State, its culture tax directly subsidizes the national crisis atmosphere of “a sad country in mourning”. The tax has sponsored dozens of TV films and series on the theme of treacherous Vichy France, the collaborators, and France's so-heroic resistance to Nazi domination. This obsessional and false remake of history – called propaganda in other countries -  is rejected by almost all young French, with polls saying that over 40% never watch State TV at all, but the mournful and luxury-budget TV series are shown on all five State-owned TV channels. They peddle a defeatist aura of disillusion and what historian Christophe Prochasson calls a French refusal “to imagine tomorrows that sing”. Instead, their TV tomorrows moan and sulk.

The real “French exception” is revealed by opinion polls showing the French are the most pessimistic nation in Europe – even beating the crisis-riddled PIIGS! Historians trace this ultimately to a shared fear with many Americans – that their 18th century revolutionary ideology of Universalism does not work, in today's world. They are outclassed and outpaced by real world history.

French soft power has been obsessionally developed and protected in the domain of ideology. Among French elites if nowhere else, the cult of ‘exceptional destiny’ is reserved, only for them. Like any other claim to exceptional and special status however, this is firstly divisive and secondly needs to be proved – otherwise it is just an egotrippers game to provoke national envy and jealousy.

De Gaulle can be credited, or blamed with launching the soft power onslaught of today, which in his times especially targeted the US. Showing the critical lack of imagination in French elite minds, the theme of “US Hyperpower” and how France must counter it, today still remains a driver of its often pathetic attempts at creating ersatz French versions of things like American rap music or Men in Black video games – the worst is the best! Any French cultural product will prove it.

Finally, the French elite always retreats into its paranoid laager. It claims that because the world doesn’t speak French and is not impressed by camembert cheese, unless it is pasteurized, this is “an irrational obstacle to global progress”. It goes on to claim that with plenty of taxes and crowds of bureaucrats, France will correct this betrayal of History and insult to Humanity – “si Dieu le veut’.

By Andrew McKillop

Contact: xtran9@gmail.com

Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2013 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

Andrew McKillop Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in