Minister has doubts about surf tax (update)

Media minister Ronald Plasterk said on Tuesday he has ‘grave doubts’ about recommendations that the government introduce an extra surcharge on internet subscriptions to help struggling newspapers.

A government commission made the recommendation to ensure that all internet users pay towards online news.
The commission suggested a levy of €2 a household, which would generate €12m to boost newspaper innovation. ‘That is the price of a cup of coffee,’ commission chairman Elco Brinkman was quoted as saying by the Volkskrant.
‘We have to get away from the idea that new media is free. That is theft from the newspapers. You have to pay something for them,’ Brinkman was quoted as saying.
The commission was set up by Plasterk to look at ways to preserve the diversity of the Dutch press which has been hit by falling subscriptions, partly due to the rise of internet news sites.
TV magazines

But Brinkman did not make any suggestions to end the dispute over the way public broadcasters compete with newspapers in operating news-based websites.
Newspapers accuse the public broadcasters of unfair competition because they are funded by the taxpayer and do not have to make a profit.
Plasterk has already announced that €8m of the hundreds of millions of euros generated by advertising on public tv and radio channels will be used to stimulate newspaper innovation.
And the government is to pay for 60 promising trainee journalists to work at the big newspapers.
The commission also recommended giving newspapers a free reign to produce their own television guides. At the moment, only broadcasting companies themselves are allowed to publish detailed tv schedules. The Telegraaf in particular has long wanted to publish its own tv magazine.
Would you be prepared to pay a higher internet fee to help newspapers? Take part in our poll.

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