Hartman: Streaming platform tax revenue could be invested in Estonian film

Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE).
Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of Culture Piret Hartman (SDE) said that the coalition plans to invest the funds generated by the anticipated streaming platform tax into Estonian film production. Also, the government wants to increase the size of the ERR's supervisory board.

During coalition talks on Thursday, the Reform Party, Estonia 200 and the Social Democrats agreed to tax streaming platforms.

Hartman said that the purpose of the streaming fee would to raise funding for Estonian film production. A comparable tax has been introduced in over a dozen European countries and now the Estonian Ministry of Culture has begun analyzing how to implement it.

The coalition talks agreed on the objective, but not on the details of the plan.  Hartman emphasized that if a tax is imposed on foreign streaming sites, it should also be applied to domestic services.

"There are two options: one is to pay the tax and the other is to contribute to Estonian film directly, and many of these Estonia-based services are contributing to Estonian film," Hartman explained.

She said that it is common practice to tax business income earned from customers in a particular country.

Plans to increase the number of members of the ERR supervisory board

The coalition also reached an agreement on a proposal for amending the legislation governing the Estonian national broadcasting. According to Hartman, ERR has been assigned an array of additional tasks and activities that are not currently specified by law.

Also, the coalition wants to reexamine the funding of national broadcasting and to lessen its dependence on politicians.

"The amount specified in the national budget is determined by the agreement reached by politicians in the Riigikogu. The objective would be to find solutions with minimal political influence, thus one of the issues we discussed was how to increase the number of experts on the ERR council," the minister said.

When asked what particular amendments needed to be made to the law, Hartman replied that coalition negotiations did not include these specifics. "The statement made at the table, and which we talked about, was that the ERR undertakes a number of activities and responsibilities that are not currently specified by law. In this context, Jupiter [streaming platform] was mentioned; nonetheless, the specialists must determine the specifics," Hartman said.

The coalition also wants to increase the number of experts on the ERR's board, which should outnumber politicians, "For example, half of the council members," Hartman said.

The council now consists of one representative from each political party and four experts, as required by law. "It would almost certainly mean an increase in numbers," the minister added, "but these are issues that will be discussed during the law's drafting."

Bringing advertising to ERR, according to Hartman, is not an option. "Colleagues asked me about it once, but we did not discuss it further. There was no support for it right now," she said.


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Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa

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