France May Add TV Tax for International Sporting Events

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Government to examine proposal covering broadcasts of local matches.

PARIS -- Another television tax on major international sporting events might be on the way for French broadcasters.

The National Center for the Development of Sport, dealing with an $18.1 million budget shortfall, is seeking to amend the Finance Act of 2000, which levies a 5 percent tax on events from France-based organizations that air locally. But major events organized outside the country -- such as the annual European rugby tournament Six Nations, headquartered in Dublin, and the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament, headquartered in Geneva -- are not presently subject to the tax, even when they take place in France.

The additional tax could fall heavily on beleaguered pubcaster France Televisions, which airs the Six Nations and other international rugby matches and is facing massive budget cuts. Channels TF1, M6 and beIN Sport also could be hit with new fees, estimated to range from $1.3 million-$4 million apiece for the soccer matches that fill their schedules.

The office of Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will examine the proposal by year's end, though Paris-based newspaper Le Figaro reports politicians are expressing reservations as it might risk major events being moved to pay channels and "depriving the wider public access to these events."