The French Senate examines the decision to abolish the TV license – Deadline
The French government’s controversial decision to abolish the country’s 89-year-old television license fee is due to be voted on by France’s upper house this week.
The end of the fee, currently set at 138 euros ($141) a year, is included in broader budget rectification legislation tackling the cost of living crisis.
The decision to scrap the levy follows an election promise made by President Emmanuel Macron in March during his presidential campaign and is seen as setting a precedent for other European territories such as the UK, where the levy is also underway. revision.
The minority government of Macron’s Renaissance party led by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne managed to pass the TV license fee measure in the lower house on July 23, with 170 votes to 57, thanks to the support of the center opposition party -right The Republicans (LR).
The bill is expected to face stronger opposition from the 348-member centre-right-dominated upper house, which was due to address the issue in a public debate on Monday (August 1) afternoon.
The upper house is rushing to vote on the package of measures included in the budget rectification law by August 6, ahead of the August 7-24 summer recess.
Plans to abolish the TV license from all political quarters in the upper house are causing concern for different reasons.
The license fee, which generates the bulk of funding for France Télévisions, Radio France, Franco-German broadcaster Arte and international TV channels France 24 and RFI, raised some $3.1 billion in 2020, to which the government has added another $666 million.
One of the main sticking points in the Senate is the government’s plan to replace lost revenue by tapping into value-added tax (VAT) revenue. These revenues amounted to 92 billion euros in 2021, the lion’s share of which went to social security payments.
This plan raised objections from both sides of the upper house, which led to an amendment being tabled last week asking that this funding mechanism be limited to December 31, 2024.
Regardless of this amendment, another sticking point in the VAT financing plan is a public expenditure law that will come into force in 2025, which will impose a link between a tax and the mission it finances.
Beyond the technicalities of how funding will be replaced, left-leaning senators say abolishing the license will threaten the independence of state broadcasters if it means they have to renegotiate budgets with governments in place every two or three years.
Leftist Senator David Assouline said the move violated Article 34 of the French Constitution, which enshrines the independence of the media.
“If we don’t win the parliamentary battle, we will appeal to the Constitutional Court on the basis of Article 34,” Assouline told French media during the Senate’s deliberation on the measure.
Critics of the decision to end fees as a cost-of-living measure say the move will have negligible impact on the finances of the 23 million households that currently pay for the TV license, noting that low-income households n were already not subject to payment.