Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Tax Man and the Media

It's no secret that the French news media are subsidized. "General-interest newspapers" ranging from Le Monde to Humanité receive tax breaks that help keep them afloat. For exact figures on the size of these subsidies, you can refer to Julia Cagé's Sauver les médias (Harvard will publish my English translation next year). But it seems that the authorities are reluctant to extend this advantage to the new online media, at least in the cases of Médiapart and Arrêt sur images. 

Now, it may be simply that the tax authorities and legislators are slow to catch up with the changing realities of the media and the increased importance of online versus print. Or--a more sinister interpretation--it may be that the authorities are reluctant to support iconoclastic and critical news outlets that often take the lead in exposing government malfeasance, as Médiapart did when it broke the story of Jérôme Cahuzac's tax cheating or beat the drums regarding campaign finance law violations by the UMP and/or Nicolas Sarkozy. Are we witnessing backwardness of retribution? Hard to say, but in either case the consequences could be serious.

Médiapart is inviting concerned citizens to help by contributing money to keep it in business. If you're interested, you can use the site jaimelinfo.fr. I did. But be forewarned: the form insists on knowing your country of residence and will accept only "France" as an answer, and when I clicked to pay, I immediately received an e-mail from my bank suggesting that someone might be misusing my credit card. But my contribution appears to have gone through.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mediapart no longer requests government subsidies :

Nous avions par ailleurs décidé, à Mediapart, que nous cesserions de solliciter une aide publique lorsque nous aurions atteint l’équilibre financier. Cet équilibre, nous l’avons atteint à partir de 2011. Depuis, Mediapart n’a plus déposé de demande de subvention.

See here :
http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/economie/291012/presse-le-dispendieux-scandale-du-systeme-de-subventions

Its also worth pointing out that for the longest time there was a complete lack of transparency -including by the press itself- concerning these subsidies. Mediapart (and the internet) helped break this omerta.

Also : the entirely arbitrary criteria Fleur Pellerin is proposing to dispensate the public funds , indeed the fact itself that the minister seems to have entire control over who is a recipient of this state largesse and who does not, and the performance of the french press when it comes to bringing their government , and the national companies , to accountability , suggest that this kind of direct intervention should be avoided as much as possible.

Philippe

bert said...

You recently argued that regional subsidies in the form of military porkbarrel spending were fiscally necessary inside a monetary union. Today you suggest that media outlets wanting to provide public-interest programming should shackle themselves to a voluntary subscriptions model. Reading your mind, I see you also believe Europe should tackle low pay through socially-enforced excessive tipping. Yippee ki-yay.

All joking aside, you get what you pay for.
And PBS is what you pay for. I don't see it often - am I wrong to believe it ain't much?

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