Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is addressing the Edinburgh Television Festival today in regards to reforming British media. Tom Watson, his deputy was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to discussing the plans, which centre around ‘digital licence fees’. The proposal would mean charging internet companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix to subsidise the BBC Licence Fee.
The idea, if implemented would effectively be erecting up a huge sign over Britain addressing to companies like Google “we don’t want your jobs or your money”.
Why would they invest in a country which is punishing them for being successful and using the money to prop up failing media organisations?
Mr Watson blames ‘digital disruption’ for the loss of three hundred local newspapers and a halving in the number of local and regional journalists in the last ten years. The reason these media outlets fail is because fewer people take them seriously. A Labour government if elected would give them a pat on the back and say:
“here’s some money we stole from the people who are actually good at this, we know you’re failing so now you can fail some more.”
The argument relies on the idea of “public interest journalism” which the BBC and newspapers like the Guardian like to think they represent. (they don’t!) The BBC promote themselves relentlessly claiming they do what they do out of some kind of social responsibility. This is a figment of the people’s imagination and if you take it seriously you’ll take anything seriously. They are people doing their jobs and want to make money.
Whether it’s the BBC, the Guardian, Buzzfeed or InfoWars, these companies are presenting a picture of the world as they see it because it’s their business.
“This is perfectly acceptable but we should acknowledge it and call it what it is.”
The most outlandish suggestion however is the idea that the BBC Governing Board should be elected. I suppose I should give them some credit for this because having proposed this enormous state power grab they at least want to justify it with some more accountability but it says a lot about their agenda that they’d need to allow TV licence payers to elect the faceless bureaucrats that run the Biased Broadcasting Corporation.
“I read the Continental Telegraph but I don’t demand that it receives subsidy or that Aunt Agatha is elected. If I don’t like it, I won’t read it.”
Mr Watson say’s “if the state wills it, the state will make it happen.” He believes that because the media is very important to democracy is needs more regulation. I agree that it’s important to our democracy, which is why the government needs to keep it’s grubby little hands off it.