The IFJ has warmly welcomed ideas put forward by UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to raise funds to support investigative and public service media by forcing big technology firms to pay their fair share of tax.
Plans to democratise the BBC, give tax breaks to not-for-profit public interest journalistic outfits and to build an independent fund to subsidise public service journalism have also been given the thumbs-up by the IFJ.
Jeremy Corbyn has laid out his plans for media reform in a major speech in Edinburgh today during which he strongly criticised large tech companies that “extract huge wealth from our shared digital space”, describing them as “digital monopolies that profit from every search, share and like we make”.
Among the measures proposed are:
• A tax on big technology firms such as Facebook, Google and Netflix, to subsidise the BBC licence fee. He warned that a “few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate” and that intervention is now required.
• That licence fee-payers and staff should elect representatives to the BBC’s governing board.
• Introducing charitable status for not-for-profit journalistic outfits, giving tax breaks to organisations.
• Establishing an independent fund to subsidise public service journalism, paid for by the tech companies, which could help fund local, community and investigative news co-ops that pledged to hold local institutions to account.
• Requiring the BBC to publish equality data, including for social class, for all creators of its content, whether in-house or external.
Corbyn argued that a levy on the big digital and technology companies could be used to provide a guaranteed income for the BBC and enable the national broadcaster “to compete far more effectively with the private multinational digital giants like Amazon, Google, Netflix and Facebook”.
The levy would be introduced as part of a new legal arrangement with the BBC that would establish the broadcaster as a permanent organisation, meaning it would no longer be reliant on regular negotiations with the government.
An independent body would then be established to set an appropriate level for the licence fee.
Among Mr Corbyn's other proposals will be strengthening Freedom of Information powers, by removing ministerial vetoes and including private companies delivering public services.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “At a time when a few tech giants are reaping the financial rewards but paying little or no tax and independent journalism is being slowly strangled, we very much welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s bold plans to redress the balance and offer strong support to both public service media and local investigative and public interest journalism".
“Ideas on improving freedom of information laws, democratising public service media and finding new ways to fund journalism will be welcomed by journalists unions across the world”, he concluded.