Nightclubs pull plug in license fee protest

Up to 600 clubs and bars in Germany will turn off the music for five minutes on Saturday in protest at plans to increase music licensing fees.

Nightclubs pull plug in license fee protest
Photo: DPA

Just before midnight DJs across the country will step back from the decks for five whole minutes and turn reveller’s attention to the plans that GEMA – the organisation which handles music royalties – wants to charge venues more money.

People in the entertainment business are worried that the increase will force clubs to shut down, Die Welt reported on Friday. More than 195,000 people have signed a petition for GEMA to reconsider their plans.

The idea is to put ten percent of the entrance fees from all pay-in clubs towards the musicians whose tracks are being played inside.

Berliners have already come out in force against the idea and 5,000 gathered in protest on Monday.

In Hamburg, Social Democrat (SPD) politicians are pushing for GEMA to reach a compromise with the disgruntled party people.

“They need to reconsider the plan and speak with club owners,” said a spokesman for the Hamburg state branch of the SPD.

“We want to put the pressure on GEMA,” said managing director of the national association for discotheques and dance venues, Stephan Büttner.

An arbitration board in the patent and trademarks office is to discuss the new tariffs with the aim of reaching a decision within a year.

The Local/jcw

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Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

High energy prices and high inflation are hitting Sweden's businesses hard. With energy price subsidies for these consumers delayed, the government is now extending existing tax deferral schemes implemented during the pandemic to ease the pressure.

Swedish government offers tax deferral to businesses

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson and Energy and Business Minister Ebba Busch announced the scheme at a press conference on Thursday.

“Many, many companies are now struggling with their liquidity,” Svantesson said.

The deferral scheme is similar to that proposed by the previous government in order to ease the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on companies, which was due to run out in February. The government has now proposed extending this scheme, allowing companies to delay their tax payments.

“These proposals will make things easier for many businesses,” Svantesson said.

The tax deferral scheme is not, Busch explained, being introduced as a replacement for the energy price subsidy for businesses which was supposed to be paid out “before Christmas” and which has now been withdrawn temporarily while the government figures out how it can be introduced without breaking EU law.

“No, rather this is a measure we’ve been looking at for a while, which should be seen as a complement,” she said.

According to rough estimates, the government believes that around 12,000 companies will apply for tax deferral, which would mean around 16 billion kronor in tax payments being delayed until a later date.

Företagarna, Sweden’s largest organisation of business owners representing around 60,000 companies across different branches, has welcomed the move, despite also voicing criticism that it’s just pushing these problems further into the future.

“It’s a loan and all loans need to be paid back over time,” Företagarna’s CEO Günther Mårder said.

Företagarna did, however, agree that the scheme will be necessary for some businesses to survive.

“Most companies going under are doing so because of liquidity problems, and this new measure will strengthen liquidity in the short-term,” Mårder said, adding that the measure could “save businesses”.

However, with many businesses already owing back taxes delayed during the pandemic, Mårder believes this could just be adding to the mountain of debt already faced by some companies.

“It means it will be record-breakingly difficult to get over this hump,” he said. “What they’re doing now is pushing problems into the future, and of course, that’s also a solution.”

The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise is positive towards the government’s proposal, adding that the many Swedish companies are currently in a difficult situation.

“Since the repayment of bottleneck revenues [energy price subsidies] is delayed, it is good and fair that companies have the opportunity to extend their tax deferrals,” Jonas Frycklund, vice chief finance officer of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise wrote in a statement.

“This will lower the risk of having to let employees go unnecessarily.”