Earlier today we had the news that Jeremy Corbyn wants to implement a tax on tech companies, the proceeds of which will go towards financing the BBC and other public interest-centric journalism. Now more plans have come to light, with the Labour leader revealing plans for a 'British Digital Corporation' that will offer services designed to compete with the likes of Facebook,and Netflix, among other things.
Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival Corbyn said that he would want the BDC to be a think-tank designed as a leader in digital policy and technology, as well as offering publicly-funded services that would rival social networks and premium streaming platforms.
“A BDC could use all of our best minds, the latest technology and our existing public assets not only deliver information and entertainment to rival Netflix and Amazon, but also to harness data for the public good.
A BDC could develop new technology for online decision making and audience-led commissioning of programmes and even a public social media platform with real privacy and public control over the data that is making Facebook and others so rich.”
Using data in the public interest, rather than making lots of advertising dollars, is definitely a good idea. So is trying to make sure social media doesn't skew public perception through the spread of fake news and propaganda. But is a publicly-funded Facebook rival really the way to do that? Would anyone join? Or would it just be a group of political and technology journalists signing up to see what it is, much like the Matt Hancock app. A streaming rival is already supposed to be in the works too, with the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4 supposedly teaming up to make sure they can stay relevant in the Netflix age.
Corbyn plans on funding this hypothetical BDC with a 'digital license fee' designed to supplement the existing TV licence fee, which is what we were talking about this morning. That would mean it's funded by tech companies or ISPs. Not sure how well that will work, especially if the money comes from a company that could easily pass those extra costs onto their consumers. It also means there would likely be less money going towards Corbyn's journalistic plans.
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