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Jeremy Corbyn sets out plan to tax tech giants to fund BBC in new media vision

Jeremy Corbyn has proposed a windfall tax on tech firms to fund journalism. Credit: PA

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out a new vision for the media, including plans to tax tech giants such as Google to fund the BBC.

In the speech, he also proposed publishing the social class of everyone producing content for the BBC in a move he hopes would improve diversity.

Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Thursday, Mr Corbyn said his proposals for a shake-up of the media were aimed at empowering "those who create and consume it over those who want to control or own it.”

Mr Corbyn, who has long been critical of the British media, said his sweeping proposals were designed to reinstate trust in quality journalism and counteract accusations of fake news.

Here is a breakdown the opposition leader's main points.

  • Support for local and investigative journalism funded by Google

The first idea was aimed at encouraging active support for local, investigative and public interest stories, with a view to granting charitable status for this type of journalism.

He said that one solution to funding public interest media, such human rights, environment and housing stories, could be to negotiate setting up an independent fund financed with a windfall tax from tech giants.

A similar public interest fund is already established in France and Belgium between news publishers and Google.

Corbyn would like to see social class of everyone who produces BBC content published. Credit: PA
  • More diversity at the BBC

Mr Corbyn would like to see information about the social class of anyone who creates BBC content to be published in a view to improve diversity at the Corporation.

He also proposed regional and national board members should be chosen through elections by BBC staff and local licence fee payers. All boards should be representative of the country, with a minimum representation for women and minority groups, he said.

The Labour leader would like better regional balance across the media to improve diversity - currently 94% of British journalists are white and 55% are men.

  • An independent BBC body

Mr Corbyn floated the idea of a new independent body to set the licence fee and suggested the BBC should be placed on a permanent statutory footing so that it would be "freed of government control".

  • A digital license fee

The Labour leader proposed funding the BBC through a digital licence fee, supplementing the existing licence fee, collected from tech giants and Internet Service Providers, such as Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook.

He said that this "could also help reduce the cost of the licence fee for poorer households."

  • Letting journalists decide their editors
Jeremy Corbyn with actor Maxime Peake a the Edinburgh TV Festival. Credit: PA

Mr Corbyn suggested journalists elect their own editors and, for particularly large or influential titles, workers and consumers should have seats on the board.

  • A new public digital corporation

A new British Digital Corporation would be a sister organisation to the BBC that Mr Corbyn believes could rival Netflix and Amazon.

He also proposed a social media platform that would harness data for the "public good".

Building on this idea originally proposed by James Harding, former BBC Director of Home News, Mr Corbyn said: "It could become the access point for public knowledge, information and content currently held in the BBC archives, the British Library and the British Museum. Imagine an expanded Iplayer giving universal access to licence fee payers for a product that could rival Netflix and Amazon. It would probably sell pretty well overseas as well."