Greek Plan To Tax Web Ads At 21.5 Percent Draws Fire

One way Greece hopes to extricate itself from its economic crisis? Tax its news websites.

In pension reform law due to be voted upon by parliament next Thursday, the government has proposed raising a 21.5 percent levy on news portals’ online advertising income. The money would go in to an existing journalists’ pension fund.

Is that counterintuitive logic? After all, news websites depend on selling web ads to keep those journalists in jobs.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB Europe) is up in arms, saying advertisers would merely switch their money away…

IAB Europe VP Kim Zorbas, who is Greek-German, tells paidContent:UK news sites would have to raise ad rates in response: “It’s anachronistic. It’s a very infant market, the government should be trying to encourage it. We would see a shift to non-news portals and even to aggregator portals.” Zorbas says he will lobby the European Commission, which has essentially enforced such reforms on Greece, to stop the measure.

From IAB’s announcement: “News portals which invest in the production of owned content will not only lose advertising revenue share but, as this is their most important – if not unique – source of income, their very existence may be threatened.”

The Greek online ad market pulled