Netherlands: VAT increase on print and online media is an “unexpected poison pill” says NVJ

Credits: Canva

The new coalition agreement, made public on 16 May 2024, led by the far-right Party for Freedom (PVV), includes an increase in value-added tax (VAT) for print and online media from 9% to 21%. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), joined its affiliate, the Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ), in denouncing a “poison pill” that will put the media market under pressure and severely impact media pluralism in the country.


This measure is part of a broader reform of the Dutch public broadcaster, Nederlandse Publieke Omroep (NPO), which includes a structural transfer of 100 million euros starting in 2026.


More than thirty media outlets published full-page advertisements today calling on the House of Representatives to withdraw the proposal and warning of its disastrous effects on independent journalism. “Certainly smaller titles and regional newspapers will be affected. This puts pluralistic journalism in the Netherlands as a whole under pressure,” they wrote in the advertisement, adding that it will trigger an “inevitable decline” in subscriptions.


The increase in VAT contrasts with the practices of most European countries, which apply reduced rates to the media and, in Belgium or Denmark, an exemption from paying VAT entirely.


“Such a measure will make journalism less accessible to the general public and will significantly impact journalistic news provision in the region. Regional titles are largely dependent on revenue from subscribers. They will soon have to pay 12% more for a newspaper or online subscription,” warned the NJV.


“It will also become even more challenging for private media to fulfill its role of producing high-quality, diverse, and reliable journalistic content. This is especially true for vulnerable online and regional titles that are already financially struggling to keep producing news that reflects the interests of local communities,” said EFJ Secretary General Ricardo Gutiérrez.


Source: EFJ


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