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TRADE unionists praised Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for a “Facebook tax” today, claiming that it would lead to greater diversity in Britain’s media environment.
Unite said that Mr Corbyn is “definitely on the right track” with his proposals for imposing appropriate taxes on profiteering media and tech firms such as Facebook and Amazon.
At the speech at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Mr Corbyn outlined Labour’s ambition to establish a British Digital Corporation, which could "deliver information and entertainment to rival Netflix and Amazon but also to harness data for the public good".
Accusing the media of “failing” in the era of the digital revolution, Mr Corbyn proposed negotiations with leading tech giants to create “a fund, run entirely independently, to support public interest media.”
In the event that negotiations turn out not to be possible, the Labour leader floated a windfall tax on digital monopolies as an “option” that could create a public interest media fund.
He also said that the licence fee must be modernised, with fairer and more effective taxes put in place to appropriately fund the BBC.
Welcoming this latest policy package, Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “The big idea in Jeremy Corbyn’s speech is the tax on the technology giants, such as Amazon and Google, to help fund the BBC and also to allow local and independent investigative journalism to flourish.
“For far too long, the powerful media technology companies have managed to get away with paying ludicrously small amounts of tax to the Treasury, while raking in stupendous profits.
“These companies can well afford such a tax.
“This glaring disparity needs to be addressed, as the money this tax would raise could help create more diversity of content in the media, including printed and investigative publications.
“He is definitely on the right track and we look forward to working with him and Labour’s team.”
Mr Corbyn also proposed the creation of a new independent body to set the licence fee and suggested that the BBC be placed on a permanent statutory footing and thus “freed of government control.”
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ welcomes bold proposals that seek to protect and bolster public service broadcasting, and aim to carve a future for the BBC that is free from the ceaseless political potshots lobbed its way in the last two licence fee settlements that have undermined its resources and threatened its ability to deliver quality content and programming.”
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