Corbyn Seeks to Curb Media Power After Wave of Negative Stories
Jeremy Corbyn will warn “tech giants and unaccountable billionaires” that he will seek to curb their control of information after a summer in which he’s been accused by the media of anti-Semitism, siding with terrorists and drifting on Brexit.
The leader of the U.K.’s opposition Labour Party will propose a windfall tax on technology companies to fund “public interest journalism,” a digital license fee and elections to the BBC board as part of a plan to “reduce government political influence” on the taxpayer funded broadcaster.
There needs to be “bold, radical thinking on the future of our media” to restore trust and limit the impact of the digital revolution, he will say Thursday in a speech in Edinburgh. Without action “a few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate.”
Corbyn’s supporters have accused the mainstream media, including the BBC, of bias against him and claim rich newspaper owners like Rupert Murdoch are seeking to deter the public from his redistributive socialist policies. “Media bosses, billionaires” and “the state” have too much power to stifle political discussion and are stopping reporters from performing their “essential” role in British democracy, Corbyn will say.
‘Digital Licence Fee’
The Labour leader was visibly angry when he was asked the same question on Brexit four times by Channel 4 News on Tuesday evening and has filed an official complaint over newspaper reports this month about his involvement in a wreath laying at a cemetery in Tunisia in 2014. Corbyn denies he was honoring terrorists and says the visit was part of a mission to bring peace to the Middle East.
Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter may be forced to pay to support independent media outlets if Labour wins power, Corbyn will tell his audience at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
“One solution to funding public interest media could be by tapping up the digital monopolies that profit from every search, share and like we make,” Corbyn will say, according to extracts his speech released by his office. “Google and news publishers in France and Belgium were able to agree a settlement. If we can’t do something similar here, but on a more ambitious scale, we’ll need to look at the option of a windfall tax on the digital monopolies.”
He will say that a charge on digital platforms could also supplement the license fee paid by all television owners which funds the BBC.
“A digital licence fee, supplementing the existing licence fee, collected from tech giants and Internet Service Providers, who extract huge wealth from our shared digital space, could allow a democratized and more plural BBC to compete far more effectively with the private multinational digital giants like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook,” he will say.
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