'The Netflix levy is coming' - Larry Bass on changes to streaming platforms

New laws will see a Media Commissioner oversee broadcasting and on-demand regulations
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.59 12 Jan 2022

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'The Netflix levy is coming' -...

'The Netflix levy is coming' - Larry Bass on changes to streaming platforms

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.59 12 Jan 2022

Share this article

The head of an Irish production company says a levy on streaming services is coming down the line.

Larry Bass, CEO of ShinAwiL, was speaking as Cabinet gave the green light to push ahead with new online safety and media regulation laws.

Companies that fail to comply with an online safety code could face fines of up to €20m or 10% of turnover.


While the proposed legislation will establish a new Media Commission regulator, to oversee the likes of broadcasting and video-on-demand regulations.

It would take on the current functions of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), with their powers extended to cover streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.

Mr Bass told The Hard Shoulder this will see money re-invested in Irish content.

"We want a level playing field between platforms who are financed, primarily, by European funds to spend some of that European money in Europe.

"So I think it's hugely important for the future of the industry, right around the world, that where there's a predominance of especially US-owned platforms, that all of the funds that goes into making these films, TV series, documentary series it shouldn't all go back into the pockets of producers in the US."

'It's not going to affect the price'

While he believes Ireland should follow France's example.

"The French have already set up significant levies, and not only [a] levy, they also have an investment criteria.

"So if you're a Netflix-type operation in France, you'll pay a substantial double-figure levy - and there is a requirement to invest another significant proportion of the funds collected in France into French content.

"That's why Netflix have opened studios in France to cater for the volume of demand of content they're going to have to commission".

And he says the levy is already on its way.

"The levy is coming - that's a European criteria - so that decision's already done.

"Now it's a case of how much will the levy be, each nation state in the EU will decide on the size and scale of the levy and when they introduce it.

"All of the platforms built the levy into their current subscriptions - so it's not going to affect the price you're paying, it's already there".

Mr Bass says he believes this approach will benefit everyone.

"I think the aim is to try and keep an industry right around the world viable.

"Otherwise you will have a scenario where Irish content will not necessarily have any funds.

"It'll be really, really difficult for small, domestic - whether its broadcasters - we don't have a domestic platform as such.

"Volta is a very good platform, but commercially it's not out there commissioning films and TV series - it doesn't have the wherewithal and budgets to do that".

But he says the new fund would allow producers apply to commercially back projects.

"It's really important that producers in different parts of Europe have content that's applicable to the audience that are buying the service in the first place.

"Netflix have a global platform, they've content from all over the world: some of their biggest shows are very local.

"'Squid Games' is a case and point; it's a South Korean show, it's playing right around the world, but the producers in Korea - if they can't get access to funding in the future, no more 'Squid Games'".

'The Netflix levy is coming' - Larry Bass on changes to streaming platforms

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Main image: Netflix recommendations are seen on an iPad in April 2021. Picture by: Kalki / Alamy Stock Photo

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