The French government’s controversial decision to abolish the country’s 89-year-old TV license is set to be voted on by the French upper house this week.
The termination of the allowance, which is currently set at 138 euros ($141) per year, is included in the broader budget rectification legislation to address the cost of living crisis.
The move to abolish the fee follows an election promise made by President Emmanuel Macron in March during his presidential campaign and is seen as a precedent for other European territories, such as the UK, where the license fee is also under review.
Thanks to the support of the center-right opposition party Les Republicains (LR), the minority government of Macron’s Renaissance party led by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne managed to push the TV license fee measure through the lower house on July 23 by 170 votes to 57. .
The bill is expected to meet stronger opposition from the 348 members of the center-right-dominated upper house, which was due to discuss the issue in a public debate Monday (Aug. 1) afternoon.
The Senate is rushing to vote on the entire package of measures included in the budget rectification legislation by August 6 at the latest, ahead of the parliamentary summer recess of August 7-24.
There are concerns from all political quarters of the Senate for various reasons about the plans to abolish the TV license.
The fee, which generates most of the funding for France Télévisions, Radio France, the Franco-German broadcaster Arte and the international TV channels TBEN and RFI, raised approximately $3.1 billion in 2020, to which the government has yet to pay. once added $666 million.
A major bottleneck in the Senate is the government’s plan to replace lost revenue with value-added tax (VAT) revenue. This revenue amounted to €92 billion in 2021, the lion’s share of which went to social security.
This plan has raised objections from both sides of the Senate, leading to an amendment being tabled last week calling for this funding mechanism to be limited to December 31, 2024.
Regardless of this change, another sticking point with the VAT financing plan is a government spending law that will come into effect in 2025 that requires a link between a tax and the mission it finances.
Leaving aside the technicalities of how the funding will be replaced, left-wing senators say abolishing the license will jeopardize the independence of state broadcasters if it means renegotiating budgets every two to three years. today’s governments.
Left-wing Senator David Assouline has said the move violates Article 34 of the French constitution, which enshrines media independence.
“If we don’t win the parliamentary battle, we will appeal to the Constitutional Court under Article 34,” Assouline told French media during the Senate’s deliberation on the measure.
Critics of the move to remove the fee as a cost of living measure say the move will have a negligible impact on the finances of the 23 million households currently paying the TV license, noting that households with a lower income were already not subject to payment.