Netflix, Disney+, YouTube & Amazon Prime Face New Tax Hit
Content streaming Companies are facing a possible tax hit as revenues from free to air TV’s fall and the new Morrison Government looks for new tax revenues.
The move is tipped to hit Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ when it launches later this year as well as YouTube. According to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher the concept of a new levy on content streaming Companies is just one option open to the Morrison Government who is open to accepting the recommendations of the ACCC’s final digital platforms report, due at the end of this month.
Also tipped is a new wave of regulation to curb market power and the pernicious consequences of the dominance of Google and Facebook.
“There was in the early days of the internet a view that cyberspace was in some way different from physical space and that the laws of the land would not apply,” Mr Fletcher told The Australian.
“That principle has been very firmly rejected. Australia, along with other G20 countries, has been party to a statement of principles which essentially says the rule of law should apply online as well as offline.”
In 2017 the Turnbull government gave in to the demands of struggling television broadcasters to abolish licence fees and lower spectrum costs, but that has seen revenue shortfalls and Fletcher is now looking as to where he can make up this shortfall.
Previously Fletcher a former Optus executive and advisor to former Communication Minister Richard Alston helped devise the “Alston Determination” which excluded radio and television programs delivered over the internet from being defined as broadcast.
That determination has a sunset clause that finishes in October this year, which could open the door to greater revenue streams for the government claims the Australian.
A report released this week from the US-based New Media Alliance estimated Google made $US4.7 billion from digital publishers in 2018 with many calling for greater control over the likes of Google News.
In its submission to the ACCC’s final report, News Corp Australia has suggested breaking up Google’s search engine and retail advertising arms in Australia, saying Google was “threatening and undermining the security of funding of news and journalism (which) strikes at the heart of our system of democracy.”
In his draft report on digital platforms, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Google and Facebook had “substantial market power” in online search, advertising and media markets, which was “unlikely to erode in the short to medium term”.
Asked if the Morrison government would break up Google if recommended by the ACCC, Mr Fletcher said: “I expect there will be recommendations which will be things that we will take account of when it comes to developing policy.”
On the National Broadband Network, Mr Fletcher said the government had no plans for a write-down of the multi-billion-dollar project. Many in the industry were expecting Labor to write down the project if elected, returning the cost to the taxpayer.
“It’s something people suggest from time to time, but the fact is there are accounting principles that deal with these matters. And it’s not something government should be directing,” he said.