Labour’s Embattled Corbyn: Tax Facebook and Google, and Give the Cash to State Broadcaster the BBC

Corbyn Bus
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Hard left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out plans to change the UK media, including taxing tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Netflix to fund the BBC and demanding more “diversity.”

He also wants to award media outlets the government deems “public interest” charitable status, giving them a financial advantage over outlets that do not curry the government’s favour and potentially handing them extra funds extracted from the tech giants.

Mr Corbyn will set out his vision for “building a free and democratic media for the digital age” at the Edinburgh TV Festival tomorrow this Thursday, the Labour press office said.

The Labour leader suggests that journalists elect their own editors at the BBC, and that the corporation publishes diversity data on the social status of its employees, possibly including their parent’s profession and if they attended a private school.

Jo Green, the former Head of Press and Broadcasting at the Labour Party, said Corbyn’s media plans were sinister. Taking to Twitter, he wrote:

“Perhaps it’s just being an old cynic, but I find elements of these media reforms rather sinister. And I don’t believe for a second that they are motivated by a belief that a future [goverment] should be held to greater journalistic scrutiny.”

The “digital licence fee” paid for by big tech companies was labeled an “internet tax” by the Conservatives, who claimed it would increase consumer bills.

In a speech anticipated on Thursday, Mr Corbyn will argue that “a free press is essential to our democracy” and journalists and those in the media need to be “set free to do their best work, not held back by media bosses, billionaires or the state”.

Without more money handed to those deemed “public interest journalism” there is a risk that a “few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate”, he adds.

“The best journalism takes on the powerful, in the corporate world as well as government and helps create an informed public,” Mr Corbyn said.

“This work costs money. We value it but somehow that does not translate into proper funding and legal support.”

James Cleverly, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said the idea showed that Labour “simply don’t know how to handle the economy”.

He told The Times: “Tech companies would just put up their prices and pass this internet tax straight on to families and businesses.”

Labour MP David Lammy said: “The media’s role is to speak truth to power. For it to do this job well, it should give voices to all groups in our country.

“Journalists cannot all come from the same posh schools, wealthy families and social class. The BBC should take the lead.”


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