Position Statement on the amended Federal Act on Film (Lex Netflix)

Position Statement on the amended Federal Act on Film (Lex Netflix)

7 May 2022

Position Statement on the amended Federal Act on Film (Lex Netflix)

The Swiss parliament has approved a plan to increase taxes on streaming companies in order to reinvest these funds in the Swiss film industry. Following the amendment's approval, streaming platforms will be required to invest 4% of the revenue generated in Switzerland in local filmmaking and to carry at least 30% of European products in their catalogues. A group of Swiss film producers called it an "essential step" to prevent the industry from dying in Switzerland, as it did in Germany and Italy. 

As of now, domestic television broadcasters such as SRF are obliged to invest 4 percent of their turnover in the Swiss filmmaking industry. The amendment of the Federal Act on Film would introduce the same regulation for streaming companies such as Netflix and Disney. Other countries already have similar regulations. In Italy for example, Netflix is required to donate up to 20% of its revenue to the creation of indigenous films and television programs. This came after lengthy negotiations, as the initial proposal originally called for a 25% cut. It is worth noting that Netflix in Italy is now increasing their subscription fee, but only for shared accounts. 

Many streaming services, such as Netflix and others, could afford to pay such a tax without any problems. The other part of the law, the demand for 30% European content, could however be a substantial obstacle for the platforms. In order to meet the proposed quota, the companies will need to either purchase additional films and series, or generate new content, possibly focusing more on quantity instead of quality.  

We think that the general idea of investing in Swiss filmmaking and having more European content on platforms such as Netflix is definitely in the interest of the European people as it fosters the European culture industry. The 4% film tax is feasible and fair, but the idea of having content quotas is still highly discussed. There is concern that the quota might lead to streaming companies simply offering European films and series to reach the 30% quota, regardless of quality and actual reinvestment in the local industry. Therefore, Volt Switzerland advises for FREEDOM OF VOTE on the amended federal act on film.