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Poland plans “Netflix tax” to support film industry

Warsaw, Poland – Earlier this week, Poland’s Finance Minister Tadeusz Koscinski unveiled his plans to introduce a 1.5% surcharge on the revenue of video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV+.

“This will not be a tax, this will be a surcharge the culture minister wants to impose on (such) companies that generate profits thanks to Poland,” Koscinski said during a teleconference with journalists on Wednesday. Small and local platforms should be exempt from the charge.

Dubbed “Netflix tax” by Polish media, the surcharge, which should amount to 15 million złoty (3.3 million euros) in 2020, according to a government assessment.

It will be directly paid to the Polish Film Institute (PISF), a state-owned cultural institution responsible for the development of Polish cinema and the promotion of Polish film worldwide, with the aim of supporting the film industry, protecting jobs and funding future productions.

It has been included as part of a new set of virus relief measures submitted to Parliament on Tuesday for approval, which aim to protect the economy from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While it has been described as an anti-crisis move, it is likely to remain in place once the pandemic has passed.

The lower house of the Parliament (Sejm) approved the government proposal which still needs to be passed by the Senate and signed by the president before becoming law.

Netflix is Poland’s most popular video streaming platform.

“This widely expected and necessary change was possible thanks to the consensus of the industry, which was a reaction to the crisis in the Polish film world caused by the current epidemiological situation”, reacted the Polish Film Institute. “In addition, it’s a response to the challenges posed by technological development in the audiovisual market.”

With coronavirus upending the movie business and hurting box office revenues, theater-going, already weakened by the shift to streaming, is facing an uncertain future in Poland and around the world. Earlier this week, Kino Pod Baranami, one of Kraków’s most iconic arthouse cinemas, launched its own online streaming platform after being forced to remain closed for over a month.

With more than 5 million monthly users last month, Netflix is Poland’s most popular video streaming platform. It’s popularity has been helped by the release of The Witcher series, based on the popular book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, as well as the platform’s first Polish original series, 1983 and Harlan Coben’s The Woods.