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 Corbyn last month was the creation of a British Digital Corporation that could help develop “new technology for online decision making and audience-led commissioning of programmes”.
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 on independent journalism in the UK, saying it could cause it to “collapse”.
His letter also warned that this proposal shows a “complete lack of understanding for publishers’ models”, and says publishers have “sought to diversify revenues in the digital age”.
He added that the creation of a “new state-backed media platform” will be “worrying for publishers”.
Said Meredith: “With the expansion of BBC’s services in a highly competitive and diverse digital marketplace, the BBC’s online content often competed with commercial services offered by PPA members.
“Further digital expansion would bring additional challenges for publishers in monetising digital audiences and could be highly damaging to media plurality in the UK.”
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.
“The 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,” 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:“The 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.”
“Acquisitions offer an important lifeline to magazine titles and media brands, which would otherwise face closure, by enhancing consumer choice and plurality.”