Argentina: new draft bill of the EAN proposes a tax on streaming platforms

The National Audiovisual Space (Espacio Audiovisual Nacional - EAN) movement has announced a new draft bill which proposes, among other aspects, a tax on large streaming platforms of audiovisual content, in order to invest it in local productions. This arises within the context of a series of recent laws in different countries of the world (France, Spain and Switzerland, for example), which, during 2021, have imposed a tax on large audiovisual content corporations, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Apple TV or Movistar Plus, to be used in local productions.

On its official web site, the EAN mentions the current commercial logic monopolized by streamings and, at the same time, it makes reference to the international context: "There is a large number of multinational commercial businesses which bill millionaire figures to local users, through the new digital technologies that offer and exhibit audiovisual content. These companies do not contribute, to the extent they actually should, to strengthen the local production of films, series and new formats, as they are already forced to do it, in other countries, in order to generate a strong industry".

In its text concerning the updating of the preliminary project on the new Audiovisual Law, published on its web site, the movement states that its most urgent priority is “the need to update contributions to the Development Fund of all the market chain concerning audiovisual works”, instead of exclusively promoting production. At the same time, it emphasizes the urgency to activate the national audiovisual industry, given the huge losses of employment sources caused by the pandemic and which affected Audiovisual Creators, Screenwriters, Actors and Actresses, Audiovisual Technicians as well as others workers and artists. Paradoxically, as countless job sources and vacancies were lost, large audiovisual content platforms earned multi-millionaire revenues.

Thus, the EAN proposes to “resignify culture and the audiovisual industry” by means of an “adaptation to the current context”. The Films Act currently in force in Argentina (Law 17741) dates from 1994, when these digital technologies to broadcast contents did not exist and, nowadays, the creators of such technologies are the ones earning the largest profits regarding the audiovisual production.

Among the main grounds of the draft bill, we can highlight the state regulation of the audiovisual industry, the promotion to production and to distribution, the modification of taxes for all current and future mass media, the implementation of screen fees to offset the monopolistic practices of hegemonic media, and the declaration of the National Institute of Films and Audiovisual Arts (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales - INCAA) as the competent authority concerning such regulation. However, the EAN claims that, due to "its rigid and bureaucratic structure, the INCAA, the body in charge of enforcing and administrating the law, has not been able to solve, from its analogical perspective, the scenario where the different ways to access audiovisual contents overlap. The inefficiency of its administrative structure, of its Advisory Council of 'symbolic' co-government, the fails concerning the rigorous elections regarding the materials that must be protected, make it inevitable to revise all that experience of 26 years with the aim to pass a new effective law which adjusts to the new audiovisual reality made up of different and simultaneous platforms".

Included among the main proposals of the draft bill are the changing of the INCAA’s governance structure, the obligation to include a minimum of national productions on digital content platforms, gender quality, the improvement and clarification of credits and subsidies systems, as well as the promotion of all the audiovisual process chain, instead of allocating it to production only.