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Government Proposed 'Fun Tax' On Movies

If there was an Academy Award for 'Strangest Method of Funding Local Content', Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs would have won it hands down, National's Broadcasting spokesperson Katherine Rich said today.

"Marian Hobbs has taken the ludicrous step of directing officials to look at taxes on movie tickets, videos, imported programming, and radio and television advertising, at a time when this Government has said it will not introduce any new taxes.

"Documents released under the Official Information Act show that after 14 months of waxing on about the contribution that broadcasting makes to democracy and public debate, the Minister has done little else than seek ways to raise $150 million to offload the financial responsibility for publicly funded broadcasting.

"Advice requested by the Minister on 15 January 2001 details taxes on cinema tickets, taxes on videos, imported TV programmes and additional taxes on commercial broadcasters' revenue as options to prop up spending on broadcasting. Even the weird idea of imposing an advertising tax based on audience ratings is explored.

"Directed by the Minister, officials considered how public broadcasting is commercially funded in France and Finland. If the 11 percent tax used on movie tickets in France was adopted here it would increase the prices by about $1.50 per ticket for New Zealand movie-goers.

"These loopy ideas target unsuspecting film and video watchers, advertisers and broadcasters. While the Minister might dismiss some of the ideas explored in these papers, the very fact that the Minister is considering these ideas is startling.

"The papers also suggested a 14.5 percent tax on advertising, based on 1999 advertising turnover, to raise money to replace the $97 million formerly raised by broadcasting fee. The advertising tax rate could be between 0.6% (to raise $5m) and 12% (to raise $100m), the papers said.

"None of these outlandish proposals would work here in New Zealand. Any astute Minister who understood the New Zealand broadcasting environment would not have wasted officials time by directing them to develop such loopy policy ideas," Katherine Rich said.

Ends


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