Czech Republic: the end of the newspaper?
As part of an austerity package the Czech government has more than doubled the VAT on printed newspapers, bringing it up to 21 percent from the previous 10 percent. Publishers fear that this will mean the end for these newspapers. Commentators criticise the measure as a declaration of defeat in the fight against misinformation.
The door is open to disinformation
Lidové noviny observes:
“Let’s assume that the intention is not to destroy the newspapers, but merely to spread ignorance. The ministers aren’t aware that no other European country levies such high taxes on newspapers. ... They don’t realise the social function newspapers fulfil, and so above all they unconsciously support the endless, undifferentiated flow of information on the Internet. The disappearance of newspapers may not mean a significant restriction of access to information, but it will certainly lead to even more manipulation of the information for the population.”
Not the way to hit the despised media mogul
The measure differentiates between various kinds of publications and also reeks of an attack on media mogul and opposition leader Andrej Babiš, says Denik:
“Who benefits if entertainment (and pornographic) magazines are taxed at twelve percent while serious newspapers are taxed at 21 percent? If this idea is a covert attempt to destroy the media division of Andrej Babiš’s company Agrofert, it’s a very dumb way of going about it. Babiš will have no problem selling the media outlets he owns, while the remaining press will be defeated. And it will also mean the end of the fight against misinformation. But the government doesn’t seem to care.”