Swiss voters look set to approve ‘Lex Netflix’ TV streaming funding law

A poster reading: “No to the film law – anti-consumer, unfair, patronizing” is seen on a field, before the Swiss electorate votes on several issues in a referendum next weekend, near Birmensdorf, Switzerland May 9, 2022. Picture taken May 9, 2022. REUTERS / Arnd Wiegmann

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ZURICH, May 15 (Reuters) – Swiss voters on Sunday looked set to back proposals to make global TV streaming services such as Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) Amazon (AMZN.O) and Disney (DIS.N) invest some of their revenues generated in Switzerland into domestic film-making.

Some 58% of voters backed the proposal, according to early projections by broadcaster SRF, in one of three national votes held over the weekend under the Swiss system of direct democracy.

The vote is the latest introduced in European countries to support local TV and film production and boost locally-produced content.

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In the binding referendum on what is being called “Lex Netflix”, Swiss voters decided whether international streaming services must invest 4% of the revenue they make in Switzerland in local film production, as domestic broadcasters now do.

The investments can take the form of buying locally-made shows, making programs themselves or going into an investment fund.

A similar law has been passed in Portugal where streaming service providers have to pay 1% on their income to the Institute of Cinema and Audiovisuals (ICA).

Denmark is considering a 5% tax to support domestic TV production, while Spain also plans to introduce a levy.

France and Italy both have investment obligations where streaming services have to invest a proportion of their revenues – up to around 20% – in European content in local languages.

In a separate referendum, Swiss voters also looked set to approve spending more money on Europe’s Frontex border security agency.

SRF projections showed 72% supporting the increase to 61 million Swiss francs a year by 2027, up from 24 million francs in 2021.

A rejection could also have forced Switzerland out of the 26-member Schengen passport-free travel zone and the Dublin system of coordinating asylum applications.

In the third vote, voters also supported a plan to make it easier to harvest human organs for transplants with 59% in favor, according to projections.

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Reporting by John Revill Editing by Gareth Jones and David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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