Calgary Herald - - WORLD -

Bri­tish Labour Leader Jeremy Cor­byn at­tacked bil­lion­aires, the tech giants and the “elite” in a speech at the Ed­in­burgh TV fes­ti­val in Scot­land Thurs­day.


Cor­byn’s sup­port­ers have ac­cused the main­stream me­dia of bias against him and claim rich news­pa­per own­ers like Ru­pert Mur­doch are seek­ing to de­ter the pub­lic from his re­dis­tribu­tive so­cial­ist poli­cies. “Me­dia bosses, bil­lion­aires” and “the state” have too much power to sti­fle po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion and are stop­ping re­porters from per­form­ing their “es­sen­tial” role in Bri­tish democ­racy, Cor­byn said. In a speech couched in the lan­guage of class war, Cor­byn ral­lied against the “bil­lion­aire class” and warned that “elite con­trol” was stop­ping “the pow­er­ful and the wealthy” be­ing held to ac­count. His goal was to “take on the power of un­ac­count­able bil­lion­aires who claim they are set­ting us free but in re­al­ity are hold­ing us back.”


Cor­byn pro­posed a wind­fall tax on tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies to fund “pub­lic in­ter­est jour­nal­ism,” a digital li­cence fee and elec­tions to the BBC board as part of a plan to “re­duce gov­ern­ment po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence” on the tax­payer funded broad­caster. There needs to be “bold, rad­i­cal think­ing on the fu­ture of our me­dia” to re­store trust and limit the im­pact of the digital revolution, he said. Without ac­tion “a few tech giants and un­ac­count­able bil­lion­aires will con­trol huge swaths of our pub­lic space and de­bate.”


The BBC should de­clare the “so­cial class” of all its pre­sen­ters and jour­nal­ists as part of a bid to im­prove its di­ver­sity, said Cor­byn. The Labour leader wants a re­quire­ment that pre­sen­ters sup­ply de­tails about their back­ground, in­clud­ing whether they went to pri­vate school and their par­ent’s oc­cu­pa­tion and ed­u­ca­tion. Cor­byn said the in­for­ma­tion could then be pub­lished as part of a drive to en­sure there is “com­plete trans­parency” for “all cre­ators of BBC con­tent.” The gov­ern­ment al­ready re­quires large com­pa­nies to re­port their gen­der pay gap in an at­tempt to en­sure that women are not un­der-rep­re­sented at se­nior lev­els. Some firms also ask staff if they went to a fee-pay­ing school. Damian Collins, the chair­man of the Depart­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport, said: “My con­cern is that this is an­other step down the road of ques­tion­ing a jour­nal­ist’s cred­i­bil­ity. Say­ing ‘you’re only writ­ing that be­cause of your back­ground, it’s the type of person you are’.”

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