DFer wants a tax on online video-streaming services

Netflix, Apple, Google and the rest should pay to be in Denmark, says culture spokesperson

Alex Ahrendtsen, the culture spokesperson for Dansk Folkeparti (DF), wants a 2 percent tax charged to multinational online video-streaming services like Netflix.

Ahrendtsen wants the levy to be part of a new film deal, for which negotiations begin on 7 October, as a way to help fund the Danish film industry.

“Right now, multinationals are supping up the cream without supplying milk,” Ahrendtsen told Politiken.

“They sell their products via our telecom operators' networks, and meanwhile they set up shop in Luxembourg where they pay lower taxes. It gives them a competitive advantage over domestic players.”

Do it French-style
Ahrendtsen pointed to France, which starting from next year will start taxing Netflix 2 percent on any income in excess of 10 million euros a year.

“That two percent will provide millions for the French film industry and we should do the same,” he said.

Ahrendtsen called companies like Google, Apple and Netflix “soldiers of fortune" that undermine, rather than help, the Danish film market.  

Socialdemokraterne culture spokesperson Troels Ravn doesn’t want to see more taxes levied, but he does think that content providers should be contributing to the Danish film industry.

"We need to negotiate a deal that supports Danish films,” he said. "We have set aside 70 million kroner over the next four years, and we will be asking the film industry and telecommunications providers to find models that can generate new revenue.”

READ MORE: Netflix success marred by poor subtitles, high cost and limited stock

Enhedslisten culture spokesperson Jørgen Arbo-Bæhr said that consumers would wind up paying the bill if companies are hit with a fee.

"I think what we need to look at is copyright law, so Google cannot just steal everything that is produced in Denmark, ”said Arbo-Bæhr. 

White noise
Telecoms analyst Claus Bülow Christensen from Zebra Digital Media Group called the proposal from DF “unnecessary noise” and was afraid that the multinational companies could become annoyed with the Danish market.

“The criticism is that Netflix does not have much Danish content, but things are just getting started,” he said.

"I have seen figures from the German market that show the very presence of Netflix has stimulated the German production environment."

Christensen said that even with the small fortune “the Americans” send out of the country every year, they should be allowed to operate in Denmark because “we obviously cannot do it better ourselves and they'll breath life into our production environment.”

Support Danish culture
Christensen said the EU requires that VAT be levied when the goods are purchased, and that will mean that Netflix must account for VAT in Denmark instead of Luxembourg, “so we’ll at least get our VAT back.”

Netflix wrote in a statement that it is operating within Danish law, but Ahrendtsen is not backing down,

"There is a struggle between the multinationals and our national cultural market, and we must support the artists who are critical to our culture,” he said.