The Professional Publishers Association has told Jeremy Corbyn his ideas on media policies are “seriously concerning”, following the Labour leader’s speech at Edinburgh TV Festival last month.
In the letter, written by PPA managing director Owen Meredith to Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson MP, he said he “welcomed” the party’s policies, but added: “There are some ideas that are deeply concerning.”
Among the “big ideas” put forward by CorbynÂ last month was the creation of a British Digital CorporationÂ that could help develop â€œnew technology for online decision making and audience-led commissioning of programmesâ€�.
The corporation, which has been touted as a sister to the BBC, could even run a public social media platform, Corbyn suggested.
Meredith raised concerns over the impact such an organisation could have onÂ independent journalism in the UK, saying it could cause it to â€œcollapseâ€�.
His letter also warned that this proposal shows a â€œcomplete lack of understanding for publishersâ€™ modelsâ€�, and says publishers have â€œsought to diversify revenues in the digital ageâ€�.
He added that the creation of a “new state-backed media platform” will be “worrying for publishers”.
Said Meredith: â€œWith the expansion of BBCâ€™s services in a highly competitive and diverse digital marketplace, the BBCâ€™s online content often competed with commercial services offered by PPA members.
â€œFurther digital expansion would bring additional challenges for publishers in monetising digital audiences and could be highly damaging to media plurality in the UK.â€�
During his speech, Corbyn also highlighted the need to regulate digital monopolies, such as Facebook and Google, who profit from the content produced by news publishers.
Meredith said he agreed with the proposal. He said the PPA has called on the Competition and Markets Authority to look at the value chain in digital advertising.
â€œThe idea of a publicly controlled media fund to subsidise journalism sits uneasily with a free press that can act with true independence, free of political interference or state control,â€� he said.
The letter, also sent to Corbyn pointed out how Labour’s proposals could be “damaging for brand plurality in magazine media and business information”.
Meredith wrote:â€œThe UK has a healthy independent publishing sector, but larger publishing houses are essential to sustain a greater diversity of brands by sharing back-office costs and the benefits of economies of scale.â€�
â€œAcquisitions offer an important lifeline to magazine titles and media brands, which would otherwise face closure, by enhancing consumer choice and plurality.â€�
Source: Digital Journalism