France gives tax credits to news subscribers in effort to rescue sector

French MPs have voted to grant a tax credit to anyone taking out a new subscription to a current affairs newspaper or magazine after the government argued that the sector was “suffering enormously” from the coronavirus crisis.

Deputies voted to allow a one-off deduction of up to €50 (£45) to households subscribing for the first time, and for at least 12 months, to a newspaper, magazine or online news service “providing news of a general or political character”.

News publishers around the world have been hit hard by the crisis, hindered from printing, distributing or selling paper copies and devastated by a collapse in advertising revenues while obliged to continue paying fixed costs such as office rents and staffing.

Most have placed staff on furlough and many – particularly those that are not part of a big group, have not developed a strong digital business and are heavily reliant on advertising and print – are unlikely to survive or have already folded. US newspapers are said to be facing an “extinction-level” crisis.

Several countries are looking at ways to support their ailing news sectors, particularly local press. Canada, for example, is considering raising the tax credit on digital news subscriptions from 15% to 50% in an effort to encourage more people to support media outlets.

France’s state secretary for economic affairs, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, said the measure reflected “an undertaking by the president to support the press, which is suffering enormously and not necessarily benefiting from all sorts of aid” available to other sectors of the economy.

MPs voted in favour of an amendment to extend the tax break to subscriptions to quarterly general interest magazines, but rejected proposals to allow specialist magazines to benefit from the scheme and to extend it to renewals of existing subscriptions rather than new ones.




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