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October 11, 2002 08:21am
France to Slap 93% 'Supertax' on Porn Films
Source: Reuters

(PARIS, FRANCE) -- The French government will hike taxes on profits from sexually explicit films to 93 percent as part of an anti-pornography drive by ruling conservatives.

This was one of several proposals to fight pornography to emerge from the center-right majority elected in June. Several deputies want to ban X-rated films from television, but others in the conservative ranks oppose this as censorship.

"Our aim is to make this sector financially unattractive," right-wing parliament deputy Charles de Courson told Le Figaro daily on Friday after parliament's finance committee agreed his initiative would be applied from January 1 next year.

Courson said the measure would raise to 60 percent from 33 percent a special tax already levied on profits from the production, distribution or showing of any French-made film deemed pornographic or an incitement to violence.

Once added to France's standard 33 percent tax on all corporate profits, French porn film-makers will be left with a mere seven percent of their profits net of tax.

"We want to destroy their profitability to discourage further investments," Courson said.

Imported porn will not be spared either. If a separate measure is agreed in negotiations continuing this week for the 2003 budget, full-length foreign productions will face a tax of 91,470 euros ($90,390), with half that for short films.

Emboldened by their landslide victory in June elections, many conservatives believe the time is ripe to take aim at France's tradition of cultural permissiveness.

France's TV watchdog CSA, headed by right-winger Dominique Baudis, has called for the government to ban the X-rated films that have been shown on late-night subscription television channels for years. A decision is expected from next week.

The Interior Ministry is also studying a possible ban on the new novel "Rose Bonbon," which has gained notoriety for its graphic portrait of a pedophile murderer.

Human rights groups and bastions of France's liberal tradition such as the influential Le Monde daily have cried foul, saying ruling conservatives under President Jacques Chirac are on a repressive moral crusade.

But Courson noted the new porn film "supertax" gained the backing of opposition left-wingers in a vote at an overnight sitting which ended early Thursday.

"Both right and left are in agreement. The left's position on this issue has changed a lot," he added. ($1=1.012 Euro)

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