Contribution à la Consultation de la Commission européenne sur l'alignement du taux de TVA des publications papier et électroniques
Paris, le 16 septembre 2016. - Le Spiil a répondu à la consultation publique ouverte par la Commission européenne sur l'application de taux de TVA réduit sur les publications fournies par voie électronique : il y défend résolument une égalité de traitement entre les supports, au nom des principes, des usages et du développement économique du secteur.
Extending (super-)reduced VAT rates to e-publications is key to the expansion of the news industry and to its impact on democracy
1. Newspapers and periodicals are not defined by a physical support, but by a content
The legitimacy of (super-)reduced VAT rates on newspapers and periodicals relies on the democratic value of their content. Whether this content is distributed on physical support or online is not relevant.
If digital publications cannot benefit from same VAT rates as printed ones, democratic goals are compromised and competition is distorted.
2. Technological neutrality is key to the expansion of the sector
The impact of the press, regarding democratic needs it fulfills, lies in its ability to reach audiences. All studies show that newspapers consumption now mainly happens online. A standard VAT rate is a disincentive to keep pace with citizens habits and technological progress. Fiscal incentives for print support can only affect negatively the economic well-being of the sector.
In France, since online publications were granted VAT super-reduced rate in 2014, online revenues of publishers have increased. Historical publishers have converted a part of their readership to online subscriptions and reached new audiences, and pure players have emerged, mainly based on paid content business models: our organisation now have more than 150 members, compared to less than 70 in 2013. VAT cuts have been converted to lower online subscriptions prices, boosting readership and revenue, and to technical and editorial investments.
3. Boosting reader revenue for sustainability and independence
For a few decades, newspapers ad revenue has been declining. Reader revenue has to grow if the news industry is to continue to produce quality journalism and to invest enough to meet the challenges it faces.
It will allow the industry to avoid over-relying on advertising and other revenue, enabling publishers to focus on the needs of their audience.
Financial sustainability of publishers is the main condition to their independence and to their contribution to democracy.