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NETFLIX

HBO to challenge Netflix in battle for Spanish viewers

Just months after Netflix became available in Spain, HBO has announced the launch of its own streaming service to rival it.

HBO to challenge Netflix in battle for Spanish viewers
A still from Game of Throne Photo: HBO

By the end of 2016, the American network will offer Spanish residents a web-only channel, expanding a service it already offers in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.

The stand-alone web service is an attempt to woo “cord-cutters” – a term used for those who ditch pay-TV subrscriptions and instead view over internet streaming.

With its new offering HBO, which is owned by Time Warner, will retain exclusive rights to its shows meaning fans of hit series such as Game of Thrones, True Detective and Girls will have to sign up for future seasons.

Simon Sutton, HBO’s president of international and content distribution, confirmed the plans to Bloomberg but wouldn’t comment on the details.

Netflix launched across Spain in October providing a service costing from €7.99 per month and offering originals such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

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TAX

Online streaming giants face rise in tax to fund Spanish productions

Spain is preparing legislation that would impose a 5.0 percent tax on streaming giants like Netflix with the funds used to boost Spanish cinematic production, the government said on Friday.

Online streaming giants face rise in tax to fund Spanish productions
Founder and CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings speaks during a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on February 27, 2017. LLUIS GENE / AFP

The draft law, which would tax online entertainment platforms on the basis of earnings generated in Spain, seeks to bring existing legislation “in line with the reality of the market where new audiovisual players have multiplied as a result of new technologies”, an economy ministry statement said.

The reform is part of the government's Digital Spain 2025 strategy, one of whose aims is to improve the country's appeal as one of the most attractive locations for shooting films and series.

The text “extends the obligation to fund European audiovisual production to those providers offering services in Spain even if they're not based there” in a nod to platforms like Netflix, HBO, Disney and Amazon Prime Video.

“Providers with a turnover of more than 50 million euros generated from services in Spain must allocate 5.0 percent of these revenues to finance European audiovisual works or as a contribution to the Cinematography Protection Fund,” it says.

Of that amount, 70 percent must be used to finance audiovisual works by independent producers, and a minimum of 40 percent must be used to fund independent films “in any of Spain's official languages”.

For those earning under 50 million euros, that 5.0 percent can be diverted into buying the rights to finished European productions, but at least 70 percent must go towards works by independent producers.

Those earning under 10 million euros in Spain will be exempt from the proposed tax.

Global giants such as Amazon, Google and Netflix often pay very little tax in nations where they are not physically present, presenting a major challenge for many countries.

Early last month, the Spanish government gave final approval to a 3.0 percent tax on revenues generated by digital giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon which will come into effect within three months.

It will apply to all internet giants with annual global sales of over 750 million euros and 3.0 million euros in Spain.

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