France eyes computer screen tax to boost revenues

PARIS Sat Jun 30, 2012 11:40am EDT

A computer screen displays the world launch of Microsoft Office software in ''Alsacien'', the traditional language of the eastern France region of Alsace, in Strasbourg April 17, 2007. REUTERS/Jean-Marc Loos

A computer screen displays the world launch of Microsoft Office software in ''Alsacien'', the traditional language of the eastern France region of Alsace, in Strasbourg April 17, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jean-Marc Loos

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French government is considering extending the television license fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues for public-sector broadcasting operations, the culture minister said on Saturday.

President Francois Hollande's Socialist government already aims to raise an extra 7.5 billion euros this year through tax rises included in an amended budget bill to be unveiled next week.

"Is it necessary to extend the fee to (computer) screens when you do not have a television? It is a question we're asking ourselves, but obviously it would be a fee per household and you would not have to pay an (additional) fee if you have a computer and a television," Aurelie Filippetti said on RTL radio.

She said the government would study the new measure in 2013, and gave no further details.

The license fee - 125 euros ($160) in mainland France and 80 euros in its overseas territories - is used to finance public television and radio.

According to a Global TV survey in March, more than 11 million French people now watch television programmes on computer screens, tablets or smart phones, a rise of 41 percent on 2011.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on June 28 announced plans to cut staff at most ministries by 2.5 percent annually for the next three years and reduce the government's operating costs in 2014 and 2015 as it seeks to reduce its budget deficit to meet European Union targets.

(Reporting by John Irish and Chine Labbé; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo and Roger Atwood)

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