Denmark approves a 6% levy on streaming services, sparks debate and chaos among the industry
- Cineuropa caught up with Viaplay reps and the Danish Producers’ Association to get their insights into the divisive provision recently approved by the Danish government
The Danish government has recently approved a 6% tax on streaming services, making it the first Nordic country to implement such a levy. The measure was announced on 21 May as part of the new Danish Media Agreement 2022-2025 and Denmark’s contribution to the implementation of the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). The funds collected through this tax will be administered by the Danish Film Institute and will mostly support series and documentaries. According to media analysts, the country’s sector will benefit from an extra cash injection of 150-200 million Danish crowns per year (circa €20-27 million).
The move was warmly welcomed by DR’s CEO, Maria Rørbye Rønn, and by Danish Film Institute CEO Claus Ladegaard. In a recent interview published by nordiskfilmogtvfond.com, the latter argued that the levy would enable “the production of more quality Danish films and series in the years to come” and would allow the nation “to dream about a vibrant and strong Danish film industry that can continue to have a solid national position and a recognised international trademark”.
The provision has also been strongly supported by the Danish Producers’ Association. We reached out to Jørgen Ramskov, its head, who spoke about the benefits that the 6% levy will bring to Danish creators: “The purpose of the tax is to secure the necessary financing of local content and, at the same time, ensure a clear cultural stamp on the content. Denmark is a small country with a language only spoken by 5.8 million people, and it is necessary to make sure we have content for the Danes – and the big international streamers are not in a position to secure that. Their market is the world – not Denmark. So, we are confident the tax will make it easier to finance and produce local content. Similar taxes are imposed in many other European countries and are working well.”
On the other side of the fence are streamers opposing the new tax. We reached out to one of the country’s market leaders, Viaplay. “Viaplay Group invests hundreds of millions of kroner in local Danish productions each year, and we have a substantial slate of upcoming productions. We believe this proposed tax is ill-considered, and an unnecessary and misguided governmental intervention. It will ultimately lead to less investment in Danish TV content and to higher consumer prices. This is the exact opposite of what the government should be aiming for at a time when the demand for Danish content is higher than ever before,” said Emma Andersson, the group’s senior communication manager.
Andersson also touched upon the future prospects brought about by the levy: “A long-term consequence of this proposed new tax could be that streamers immediately redirect investments to financially more attractive markets, where investment is encouraged, rather than taxed. This would be very sad for content creators, actors, directors, producers and the whole industry. It would also be sad for the Danish viewers, who will have less choice and less diverse content available to them.”
Speaking about how the tax would change the group’s market strategies, she added: “It is too early to say to what extent this will affect our overall market strategy, but our strong hope is that we can find a solution to ensure a long-term plan for a flourishing, creative Danish industry. As a consequence of the proposed streaming tax, together with Create Denmark and the Danish Producers’ Association short-form agreement for clearances, Viaplay Group has decided to pause all scripted productions in Denmark as of 7 June.”
Andersson also shared an open letter to Create Denmark and the Danish Producers’ Association (click here), signed by Viaplay’s EVP and chief content officer, Filippa Wallestam. TV2 and Netflix have also joined in with the halt in production, sparking debate and creating a great deal of concern about the future of the sector. Watch this space.
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