Breaking: Corbyn plans huge media shake-up when in power. #ChangeTheMedia

corbyn ctm.png

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set a cat among mainstream media pigeons earlier this year when he responded to their laughable ‘Czech spy’ smears by warning them that “change is coming”. The exponential increase in smears since then suggests that the ‘MSM’ were deeply worried.

Now Corbyn will set out ideas for “building a free and democratic media for the digital age” in the prestigious Alternative MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival tomorrow (Thursday).

Corbyn will argue that “we need bold, radical thinking on the future of our media” because of low levels of public trust and the impact of the digital revolution. Without major changes, he will say, a “few tech giants and unaccountable billionaires will control huge swathes of our public space and debate”.

Corbyn, who previously worked on the Newport and Market Drayton Advertiser and chaired the National Union of Journalists’ Parliamentary group, will argue that “a free press is essential to our democracy” but that journalists and media workers need to be “set free to do their best work, not held back by media bosses, billionaires or the state”.

Corbyn will outline proposals for debate to expand and empower public interest journalism including:

  • Strengthening Freedom of Information by ending ministerial vetoes and including private companies delivering public services;
  • Giving charitable status to some local, investigative and public interest journalism;
  • Creating an independent fund for public interest journalism paid for by tech giants;
  • Expanding an existing BBC-government scheme to fund and develop local journalism.

Corbyn will also outline his support for the BBC as a publicly owned, public service broadcaster and media organisation, which he will say is “a great institution which rightly commands a special place in our country’s story and national life”.

But he will also argue that we need to look at ways to democratise the BBC so it is freer from government influence, more accountable to the public and more representative of the country it serves.

On the BBC, Corbyn will float a series of ideas, including:

  • The election of some of the BBC board members by staff and licence fee payers, and the reduction or removal of the government’s powers of appointment
  • Complete transparency about the diversity and make-up of the BBC workforce
  • Placing the BBC on a permanent statutory footing to end government control through charter renewal
  • The introduction of a digital licence fee, payable by tech giants or through internet service providers, to supplement the current TV licence fee and reduce the cost for poorer households.

On expanding FOI, Corbyn is expected to say:

I’m proud that one of the great tools that journalists can use to hold power to account, The Freedom of Information Act, was introduced by a Labour government.

We have already said that we would expand the Act so it covers private sector providers of public services. It is simply not acceptable for corporate executives to hide behind the excuse of commercial confidentiality when they are meant to be providing – and as we’ve seen with Carillion, East Coast Mainline and Birmingham Prison this week so often failing – a public service.

But I think we should be more ambitious. Currently, ministers can veto FOI releases. On two occasions, this veto has been used to block information about the UK’s decision to pursue military action against Iraq. That can’t be right. We will look at ending the ministerial veto to prevent the Information Commissioner being overruled.

And on the charitable status of public interest journalism:

The best journalism takes on the powerful, in the corporate world as well as government, and helps create an informed public. This work costs money. We value it but somehow that doesn’t translate into proper funding and legal support.

So, we should look at granting charitable status for some local, investigative and public interest journalism. That status would greatly help pioneering not-for-profit organisations, like the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, to fund their vital work through tax exemptions, grants and donations.

On finding new funds to support public interest media:

One solution to funding public interest media could be by tapping up the digital monopolies that profit from every search, share and like we make.

Google and news publishers in France and Belgium were able to agree a settlement. If we can’t do something similar here, but on a more ambitious scale, we’ll need to look at the option of a windfall tax on the digital monopolies to create a public interest media fund.

On Labour’s plans to support local and community media, Corbyn will say:

This important part of the media, and its fantastic workforce, could be supported by reform and expansion of an existing BBC scheme, which sees ring fenced funding for ‘local democracy reporters’ employed in local papers.

Part of these funds could be made available to local, community and investigative news co-ops, with a mandate to use significant time and resources reporting on public institutions, public service providers, local government, outsourced contractors and regulated bodies.

Corbyn will lay out options for making the BBC a genuine, transparent public service no longer at the mercy of government’s political ends:

One proposal would simultaneously reduce government political influence on the BBC while empowering its workforce and license fee payers. That would see some elections of places to the BBC Board, for example of executive directors by staff and non-executive directors by licence fee payers.

To help decentralise the BBC, national and regional boards could be expanded, with election 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.”

The BBC could lead the way by setting best practice with complete transparency on the makeup of its workforce by publishing equality data, including for social class, for all creators of BBC content, whether in-house or external.

If we want an independent BBC, we should consider setting it free by placing it on a permanent statutory footing, with a new independent body setting the licence fee.

The licence fee itself is another potential area for modernisation. In the digital age, we should consider whether a digital licence fee could be a fairer and more effective way to fund the BBC.

A digital licence fee, supplementing the existing licence fee, collected from tech giants and Internet Service Providers, who extract huge wealth from our shared digital space, could allow a democratized and more plural BBC to compete far more effectively with the private multinational digital giants like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook. This could also help reduce the cost of the licence fee for poorer households.

Judging by the MSM’s response this evening to partial leaks of the information – with false claims that cameras will be banned from the speech and already attacking its credibility, they’re no less worried this evening.

The SKWAWKBOX needs your support. This blog is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your solidarity so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.

If you wish to reblog this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. I second that. And add to that a code of ethics for journalists. That should do it.

  2. Sounds positive on first reading.
    Need to take the power away from the Right Wing Billionaire Barbarian Media Barons!
    No doubt they will shout and scream as they lose their privilege.
    Last throes ‘Great Men and Women’ (?)

  3. All good stuff, however what he can do NOW is sort out his own media team, does he even have one? if so it is doing an appalling job. I’ve heard it said that hardly any of the media receive press releases from his office, if that is true, what the heck are they doing? A good media team could have helped to fend off all of the garbage which is being thrown at him. It needs to be sorted QUICKLY.

    1. He could maybe get Alistair Campbell to run The Team? He can do it himself. ‘Good media team’ sounds like the first step towards farce.

    2. ‘A good media team could have helped to fend off all of the garbage which is being thrown at him.’

      Oh really, Jack. And just how exactly could they have done that!

      1. For a start they could have straightened out the wreath gate episode before it became so convoluted. Even now on the doorsteps I’m being asked why did Corbyn lie? If you don’t think that JC with the amount of pressure and attention he gets needs the BEST media team you are not savvy with modern communications.

        Social media is excellent to get a story and a position across but it needs something to work with otherwise even the most well meaning of supporters can end up contradicting each other.

      2. Oh, I see. So you think and believe – afer all the smears and distortion and disinformation during the past three years or more – that the MSM would report stuff from the Corbyn camp if ONLY he/they had “a good media team”.

        You seem to be missing the whole point! THEY have an agenda Jack, and I would have thought that was all too obvious to just about everyone on the Left a long time ago.

        Yes, I can just imagine the following scenario if ONLY JC had a good media team:

        JC’s media team – the day after the allegations against Kelvin Hopkins were headline news all across the MSM – send out a press statement to all of the MSM in which it reproduces Kelvin Hopkins statement/rebuttal of the claims made about him, and they all cover it in full.

        In your dreams Jack!

      3. I’m afraid it’s you who is missing the point and for some reason you seem to be hung up on this and refuse to admit the obvious. Should JC have no media team, a bad media team or a GOOD media team?

        Of course the smears wont stop and of course they have an agenda and of course the MSM will give minimum coverage to Corbyn’s responses and that is EXACTLY why he needs a good team behind him, to make the most of the little opportunity available to counteract the onslaught.

        Many times you hear on the BBC “we asked for a Labour spokesperson but no one was available”

        A good team can be proactive instead of having to be reactive It’s not difficult, it’s just common sense.

  4. It’s good they’ve already gone over the top about him, what is left in their box of tricks? Their bolt has already been shot and is losing power. Commie, Nazi, Terrorist , how fo you top those? Maybe he’s Jack the Ripper? Or a MI6 agent? From Mars? A policy like this could alter this poor country more than anything else. Be Bold!

  5. A thousand times this !! This kind of democracy should be done with the NHS as well. Take the politics, cronyism and privatisation out of the NHS so we can reclaim it. It is ours, not Branson’s or Capita’s etc

  6. If BBC News hadn’t been completely overrun by right-wingers there would have been whistle-blowers.
    Hirings and promotions had to have been massively biased in favour of right-wing candidates for such a situation to arise – democratising it now won’t change that for a long time.
    Seems to me that without an investigation into those responsible for its bias it will still target Labour for destruction in government.
    Laws that free whistle-blowers and punish the liars in the media are necessary if we ever want a democracy that protects us from the powerful instead of protecting them from us.

  7. Great propisals for democratising the media from Jeremy Corbyn. JC4PM – and make it bloody soon!!

    It makes me sick to the core to hear the pernicious lie that ‘our’ press in Britain is ‘free’, when in reality it is owned and dominated by the few, blatantly serving their interests in opposition to those of the vast majority of people.

  8. This is not only an excellent plan in itself – and it’s easy to see that a lot of work has gone into it – it gets much of the media on side RIGHT NOW, with something to look forward to. Hopefully that will help to temper the vicious media onslaught against Corbyn and against the coming Labour government. JC’s speech offers something really new to those who work in the media and their response is bound to be “bring it on!” even though their masters will still insist on them either not reporting it, or misreporting it.

  9. I have been advocating a similar structure for the BBC for a couple of years. With representation of staff, both tech and journalists, licence payers and political party reps.
    This would ensure that the blatant takeover by Tories of the BBC news would be ended.
    I can imagine the language in Murdoch towers last night.
    More smears guaranteed.

  10. This is long overdue.

    I still remember a BBC interview with Corbyn where the ‘interviewer’ repeatedly went off topic and kept butting in with the same question: “when are you going to resign?”. The aggressiveness of it made it not a question but the equivalent of the twisting of an arm usually employed by a schoolyard bully.

    I don’t have a television because I refuse to give the BBC a penny of my money. I refuse to pay to be indoctrinated with right wing propaganda.

    As for Laura Kuenssberg…

    1. Ella

      You’re cutting off your nose to spite your face, news-wise, and depriving yourself of RT & Al Jazeera as well. I hate lining the BBC’s profits because of their news coverage, too, but wouldn’t want no TV at all. I’m not ready to go and live in a cave just yet…

  11. The Freedom of information Act was introduced by Tony Blair, who later admitted that it was the biggest mistake he ever made. Public Service Broadcasting is not just the BBC, as Channel 4 is also publicly owned, however it appears to be staffed by exactly the same Guardian reading clones as @ the BBC who have their own ‘Identity Politics’ agendae. I am terrified by those politicians with a degree in Sociology who believe that equality should be achieved by elites imposing quota systems; swapping one autocracy with another. Diversity of opinion & debate is key to a healthy democracy. Je suis Charlie Ebdo.

    1. Blair saying FOIA was a terrible mistake is just more proof of what a treacherous little weasel he is.

      I agree with your last point that diversity of opinion and debate is key. That is why I support these proposals: we might finally get some, as opposed to the current situation where even the Guardian and the Independent and now fully paid up members of the right wing single voice.

  12. With specific reference to representation of women & minority groups, I have a problem with an imposed broadbased solution of ‘fairness’ when the appointment of Laura Kuenssberg & John Pinaar would satisfy the criteria. It would appear that apples & pears are the only fruit that merit representation #MeMe, the bourgeois middle classes will always dominate quotas

  13. Too moderate!!!

    Sorry to rain on the parade of the Jeremy fan club but the main problem with the BBC is NOT that it is too pro-government but that it is too pro-establishment. Do you really think it would be pro- a Corbyn government for instance???!!

    Read Tom Mills’ excellent book ‘The BBC: Myth of a Public Service’ about how the BBC acts as a neoliberal broadcasting authority and that its business news is particularly neoliberal. And before that, in the ‘social democratic’ era, there was Ralph Miliband’s analysis in ‘The State in Capitalist Society’ about how the BBC although ostensibly non-party political is anything but impartial when it comes to the distinction between conventional, establishmentarian opinion and more radical, socialist solutions.

    The imposition of an obligation against bias between capitalism and socialism would not be without difficulty given that ‘we are where we are’ after 40 years of neoliberalism. But if we misdiagnose the problem, we are lost from the start.

  14. If anyone has 15 minutes I have a very short piece that makes some links between MuralGate and CemeteryGate (including a common person who slipped the net in my early versions). And do please share or criticise – as with any of the work accessible from my pinned tweet @ChrisFriel7.
    The reason I am publicising it is because I think there is scope for further journalistic inquiry, especially with regards to the Henry Jackson Society / Euston Group who appear to be those behind a concerted smear campaign. I lack the requisite experience, contacts, and skills and so I would welcome anyone who can take up some of my leads.
    My last piece is on this site:

  15. “When in power”, seriously? This Daily Mail negative gets sillier by the day!

  16. When management appointment staff in their own image & ideologies, staff elections become meaningless. BBC & Channel 4 are staffed by like-minded clones, but exceed representative quotas on race; gender & sexual orientation (although not @ senior management levels). The one criteria always overlooked & dismissed is social class. It will be very interesting to see how a definition of working class is defined,judging on recent events @ defining that which cannot be named.

Leave a Reply