Spain's Film Industry Enlists Partners to Fight Steep Ticket Sales Tax

Gregoire Gicquel

The united group has launched a campaign that includes politically charged ads in movie theaters throughout December.

Spain’s film industry has banded together with the art, music and theater sectors to fight what it calls an “unjustified” 21 percent sales tax on admissions, the Union of Associations of Cultural Industries announced Wednesday.

“The rise in the sales tax has no economic justification nor can it be understood as a recommendation from Brussels,” said a spokesperson for the union. “It was a political decision and a punishment imposed by a government — that of the Popular Party — which during four years has shown no sign of respect for an industry that represents 3.6 percent of Spain’s GDP, more than other sectors like agriculture, chemical or even telecom.”

The announcement was made in an unusual show of unity across the cultural industries and with representatives from all of the political parties — except the ruling Popular Party — in attendance.

Officially, the campaign consists of an ad highlighting the discrepancy between Spain’s tax and that applied to other European countries’ culture industries that will run in movie theaters throughout December.

The timing — 18 days before general elections — and the tone of the presentation made it clear that the campaign is also a political attack on the ruling Popular Party, which hiked the tax from 8 percent to 21 percent in Sept. 2012.

“There is only one party that has not introduced the reduction of the tax in its campaign,” said Jesus Cimarro, president of the State Federation of Associations of Theater and Dance Companies, referring to the Popular Party.

The film industry, which has suffered rampant piracy and weak admissions for years, blames the elevated tax as the “nail in the coffin.” The only segment of the culture industry exempt from the hike was printed books, which fall under a special reduced tax of 4 percent. Digital-content industry insiders have complained that the 17 percent difference in tax between digital books and their print version was unfair.