‘Facebook gets initial approval to set up local unit in Indonesia’

Updated 20 June 2017
0

‘Facebook gets initial approval to set up local unit in Indonesia’

JAKARTA: Facebook Inc. has received an in-principle approval to set up a domestic unit in Indonesia, said a senior government source from the Southeast Asian nation, home to the social networking giant’s fourth-largest user base.
Indonesia has been pushing multinational technology firms to be locally incorporated, arguing that companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google set up small business entities to provide “auxiliary” services and get away with minimal taxation while booking most of their revenue from the country elsewhere.
In fact, Google has been locked in a months-long dispute over allegations by Indonesia’s government that the search giant had not made enough annual payments. The outcome of this is expected to indicate how the government may pursue others such as Facebook and Twitter Inc. for taxes.
Facebook is now in the process of establishing a local unit in the country, said the senior government source, who has direct knowledge of the matter but declined to be identified as the information was not public. The social media giant currently operates in Indonesia through an office in central Jakarta.
Indonesia had 69 million monthly active Facebook users as of the first quarter of 2014, placing the country fourth globally after the US, India and Brazil, according to data from the company.
Facebook did not respond to requests for comment and has not provided an update on the number of its users in Indonesia.
The office that Facebook opened in Indonesia 3 years ago allows it to work with advertisers as well as small- and medium-businesses “that need an education on how to market their products,” a Facebook executive told local media at the time.
But according to an official at Indonesia’s Communications Ministry, “Facebook only appoints people in Jakarta when the need arises, no more than that. Whether they have a permanent office here or not, we do not even know.”
Indonesia is eager to ramp up tax collection to narrow its budget deficit and fund an ambitious infrastructure program. Other governments around the world are also seeking to clamp down on what they see as corporate tax avoidance.
Last week, the communications minister said Google’s Asia Pacific headquarters had agreed on future tax payments in Indonesia. But he declined to comment on whether they had resolved their dispute over taxes for past years.
It was also unclear if Google would set up a domestic unit that is separate from its existing local entity, PT Google Indonesia, which tax officials allege simply acts as a sales service provider.
Indonesia’s tax office estimates the total advertising revenue for the industry in the country at around $830 million, with Google and Facebook accounting for around 70 percent.
However, Google has pointed to a joint study by the firm and Singapore state investor Temasek that estimated the size of Indonesia’s digital advertising market at $300 million for 2015.


Barack and Michelle’s next act: TV deal with Netflix

Updated 22 May 2018
0

Barack and Michelle’s next act: TV deal with Netflix

  • The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others
  • Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films

LOS ANGELES: Former US President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, have struck a deal to produce films and series for Netflix Inc, the streaming service said on Monday, giving the former first couple a powerful and unprecedented platform to shape their post-White House legacy.
Under the name Higher Ground Productions, the Obamas have the option to produce scripted and unscripted series, documentaries and feature films, Netflix said in a statement.
The Obamas will have hands-on involvement in producing content and will appear personally in some of the shows while curating others, said a person familiar with the deal.
Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed and the first of the programming is not expected to reach viewers until about May 2019, the person said.
The agreement between the Obamas and Netflix, which boasts some 125 million subscribers worldwide, is a first for any occupant of the White House.
The closest comparison is former US Vice President Al Gore, whose global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” won an Oscar in 2007. Gore also launched a youth-oriented cable TV network, Current TV, in 2005 but it was sold to Middle-East based Al Jazeera in 2013, which later shut it down.
The Obamas gave no details of the topics they planned to cover but the content is not expected to be directly political.
Barack Obama in a statement recalled the “fascinating people” from all walks of life that he had met during his eight years in office, ending in January 2017.
“We hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world,” he added.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement that the Obamas are “uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.”
The deal with the Obamas also marks one of the biggest coups for Netflix in drawing top-level talent away from traditional Hollywood studios and television networks.
In the past year, Netflix has cut deals with Shonda Rhimes, the woman behind hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and Emmy-winning Ryan Murphy, who created “Glee” and directed the TV series “American Crime Story.”
Netflix, which has budgeted $8 billion for programming in 2018, is also producing Martin Scorsese’s next film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Barack Obama was the first guest on David Letterman’s return to television in an extended talk show format with Netflix that debuted in January.