Support new news providers via a levy on digital giants

By Media Reform Coalition / Sunday November 13, 2016 Read More
The Guardian published this letter on 11 November. Digital intermediaries such as Google and Facebook are not only amassing eye-watering profits and paying minimal tax in the UK, they are also bleeding the newspaper industry dry by sucking up advertising revenue. As national and local newspapers try to cut their way out of trouble by slashing editorial budgets and shedding staff, journalistic quality is becoming a casualty. Public interest journalism in particular has been hit the hardest as newspapers are lured into a clickbait culture which favours the sensational and the trivial. In the light of this, we propose a 1% levy on the operations of the largest digital intermediaries with the resulting funds redistributed to non-profit ventures with a mandate to produce original local or investigative news reporting. This kind of cross-subsidy is what sustained Channel 4 in its formative years. We believe that it is now time for policymakers to address the emergent gaps in the supply of diverse media and to secure the trusted and independent news system that our democracy so desperately needs. We are backing an amendment to the digital economy bill currently going through parliament and will continue to press for a news media that places the public interest above those of shareholder and vested interests. Michelle Stanistreet General secretary, National Union of Journalists Justin Schlosberg Chair, Media Reform Coalition Helen Goodman MP Amelia Womack Deputy leader, Green Party of England and Wales Prof Des Freedman Goldsmiths, University of London Prof Justin Lewis Cardiff University Prof Roy Greenslade City University Prof Brian Cathcart Kingston University Prof Natalie Fenton Goldsmiths Prof Angela Phillips Goldsmiths Prof James Curran Goldsmiths Prof Greg Philo Glasgow University Prof Steven Barnett University of Westminster Prof John Downey Loughborough University Damian Tambini London School of Economics Peter Jukes Paul Mason Prof Julian Petley Brunel University Ann Field Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom Thomas Barlow Real Media Kerry-Anne Mendoza Editor, The Canary Prof Ivor Gaber Sussex University Paul Lashmar Sussex University Dan Jackson Bournemouth University Molly Scott-Cato Green MEP for South West England Sally Broughton Micova University of East Anglia Ronnie Draper General secretary, BFAWU Bob Monks General secretary, URTU Kevin Courtney General secretary, NUT Vanessa Baird Co-editor, New Internationalist Lee Grieveson University College London Dr Russell Jackson Senior Lecturer, Sheffield Hallam University Michael Klontzas Senior Lecturer, University of Huddersfield Mike Jempson Director of The MediaWise Trust You can add your name to the statement by emailing If you want more information on our proposal for a levy, check out our draft bill or read the report produced by our chair, Justin Schlosberg, for ResPublica. Added 14 November Caroline Lucas MP and Jonathan Bartley, co-leaders, Green Party of England and Wales                   Emma Meese, Centre for Community Journalism