MPs have formally voted to end the €138 yearly TV licence fee (la contribution pour l'audiovisuel public) in France, with the funding set to be replaced by a minimal increase in VAT.
MPs voted on Saturday, July 23. The bill was passed by 170 in favour versus 57 against.
The ending of the licence fee was a key pledge from President Emmanuel Macron during his reelection campaign. Now, almost 23 million families will no longer have to pay the fee.
“We are working hard to abolish taxes that weigh on people," said Gabriel Attal, new Minister of Public Accounts.
However, he said that the measure would “not jeopardise the funding or the independence of public broadcasting”. He said: “We are very attached to our public broadcasting system.”
The licence fee, also called the redevance audiovisuelle, currently funds France Télévisions (France 2, France 3, France 5), Radio France (France Inter, France Info, France Culture, France Musique) Arte, and international media such as France 24 and RFI.
‘Political and dangerous’
The change has received some criticism from opposition MPs.
LFI (La France Insoumise) MP Clémentine Autain said: “This is a highly political and dangerous measure. Democracy needs a strong public audiovisual service, with a fair financing system that guarantees independence.”
Similarly, Parti Socialiste (PS) MP Arthur Delaporte said: “We are getting rid of a tax that some already don’t have to pay [and replacing it with] a very unfair tax, VAT, that everyone has to pay, even those who do not own a TV.”
He added that people who receive a state pension or disability allowance, or “simply do not have a television at home” were already exempt from the fee.
Staff at France Télévisions and Radio France went on strike on June 28 in protest at the changes, saying that getting rid of the fee amounted to a “threat” to the independence of the channels in question.