Why Macron's decision to axe French TV licence is a threat to public broadcast news

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On Saturday July 23rd MP's voted to abolish France's television licence, a tax that funds public broadcasting and which has existed since 1948. It currently raises 3.2 billion euros a year. The scrapping of the licence fee was a surprise and little-debated campaign promise made by Emmanuel Macron in this year's presidential election. The president says the decision was taken to help reduce the 'cost of living' burden on French households. But as Mediapart's Dan Israel argues here in this opinion article, the move poses a serious threat to France's public broadcasters who will now have to rely on a government grant from VAT receipts rather than their own dedicated tax. A number of senior figures in public broadcasting have warned about the potential threat this could cause to the independence and quality of editorial content.

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On Saturday July 23rd the National Assembly voted by 170 votes to 57 to abolish France's television licence, which has existed since 1948 and currently raises 3.2 billion euros a year. The government measure, a campaign promise by President Emmanuel Macron, was passed with the support of MPs from the rightwing Les Républicains and the far-right Rassemblement National, and despite opposition from the leftwing alliance the Nouvelle Union Populaire Écologique et Sociale (NUPES). The shortfall in funding will be made up by a government grant from VAT or sales tax receipts. Leading figures in public broadcasting have warned that the move could have a serious impact on editorial independence and content. And on June 28th staff working for the country's public broadcast outlets went on strike in protest against the scrapping of the licence. At the time of the strike Mediapart's Dan Israel wrote an opinion article summarising the main concerns about the abolition of the 'Contribution pour l’audiovisuel public' or 'contribution towards public broadcasting' as it is officially known. That article is reproduced in full below.