Netflix, Viaplay React to Denmark’s Push For Cultural Levy on Streamers to Fund Local Content

Denmark is the latest European country to push for a levy on streamers’ local turnover to fund local TV and film content. It’s now coming closer to pulling through a bill which could allow for extra subsidies to finance the production of Danish movies, fiction series and documentaries.

After failing to receive support with its proposal of a 6% levy in 2022, the government has now drafted a bill for a cultural levy ranging from 2% to 5%, depending on how much streamers have previously invested in Danish content.

If passed by the parliament, the bill will apply to global services like Netflix and Amazon, as well as local players such as Viaplay. The proceeds would go the Danish Film Institute and the Public Service Pool on an 80:20 basis.

Under the proposed bill, a basic 2% levy would apply to streamers that have been investing above 5% of their revenue in local content, while those who previously invested less would now be subjected to the 5-percent levy.

News of the levy has been greeted positively by some Danish filmmakers, producers and TV executives, but some fear it could create another rift with streamers which froze local production and commissions out of Denmark last year due a bitter dispute with unions over fees.

Viaplay, which was the first service to resume production in Denmark after signing a temporary deal with guilds in July 2022, isn’t happy about the levy.

“This comes at a time when the Danish production sector is already under pressure and many talented people in all parts of the industry are facing financial challenges,” said Filippa Wallestam, Viaplay’s Nordics CCO, in a statement sent to Variety.

Wallestam said the company was “disappointed with the proposed the 2% levy” and noted Denmark continued to “lack any production incentive schemes” which would support a spike in local investment.

“Viaplay Group is one of the largest investors in Danish content and we have made significant contributions to the local creative industry over the past 30 years. Every krona paid on a levy will mean a krona less invested in diverse, high-quality content that Danish audiences love, and it will significantly increase the costs of our planned projects,” added Wallestam on behalf of Viaplay.

Wallestam said she hoped there “will be opportunities for constructive dialogue between politicians and market stakeholders to ensure the proposal does not weaken the Danish production environment further. She warned that the proposed bill would likely lead to “Viaplay producing less Danish content.” Viaplay is currently going through a restructure as it anticipates an economic downturn. The company’s CEO Anders Jensen stepped down earlier this month and the group has merged its Swedish and Norwegian units of its production arm.

Over at Netflix, which is already subjected to levies in France and Germany, among other European territories, the reaction was more muted. “Netflix remains committed to making great Danish films and series and supporting talent development,” said the streamer. “It’s crucial that any framework is fair and proportionate and we will follow the implementation process closely to understand the impact of the proposed agreement.”

Denmark is home to many renowned filmmakers, from Lars von Trier to Thomas Vinterberg and Tobias Lindholm, as well as Nicolas Winding Refn and Susanne Bier. Its talent pool also includes some of the world’s most famous actors, from Mads Mikkelsen to Viggo Mortensen and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, as well as up-and-coming helmers such as Ali Abbasi whose Iran-set thriller “Holy Spider” won a prize at Cannes last year and was shortlisted in the international feature race. Two other Danish titles were shortlisted at this year’s Oscars: the documentary “A House Made of Splinters” and the short film “Ivalu.”

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