VAT issue threatens Athens olympics coverage

MUMBAI: Uncertaintity on whether Greek government would agree to provide refunds of Value Added Tax (VAT) has been sending danger signals to television broadcasters outside the European Union (EU).

If the government disagrees, broadcasters will have to crop their Athens 2004 olympics games coverage.

In previous years, host countries have refunded VAT paid on services and facilities connected with the production of olympics coverage. But Greece is yet to commit refunding VAT paid on transmission charges and have been giving negative responses so far.

This time VAT refunds are guaranteed only to broadcasters which have a registered corporate entity in the EU which means that large broadcasting organisations in some of the wealthier countries outside of the EU will be able to claim refunds, but broadcasters which do not have corporate entities in Europe will have to pay the tax.

This is despite the enormous promotional benefits that Greece will receive overseas.

Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) secretary-general David Astley is quoted in media reports as saying the soaring Euro and the refusal to refund VAT payments was unfairly slugging his members.

The ABU represents more than 100 national broadcasters and 25 Olympic territories, and its members have a combined viewership of 3.7 billion people.

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