If there is one country in the world that gets a raw deal when it comes to on-demand programming, it’s Australia. While you could blame its remote location, giant landmass, and jealousy-inducing weather as reason enough for its poor coverage by broadband and VOD firms, legislative and licensing roadblocks have caused far more headaches there than anywhere else in recent years, leading to a bizarre landscape of content that’s often impossible to get hold of, and expensive when it’s not.
Unfortunately then, it looks like on-demand movies, games and TV shows might be set to become even more expensive in Australia, as its beloved Goods and Services Tax (GST) is soon set to become applicable to services like Netflix and Steam (via WAToday).
“It is not fair to taxpayers, or to retailers or their many employees, to exempt overseas online retailers from the GST even if some consumers are enjoying the ride,” said the government’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey about the move to bring digital content under the GST banner. That reasoning is sound, as currently Netflix and other digital content providers aren’t subject to the same taxation as physical service and product providers, but it isn’t likely to please fans of on-demand viewing.
Indeed, Australia already has some of the worst piracy rates in the world, much of which is blamed on the fact that media companies in the US and elsewhere prefer to limit their exposure to content until much later than elsewhere and when they do, it’s often at an inflated price.
It’s hard to imagine piracy not taking another jump when Netflix and other companies are forced to pay and charge a 10 percent GST fee when the next budget rolls around in a few days time.