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Google and pay-TV taxes 'could subsidise original journalism' 

15 March 2010

A major independent study into British public life suggests that new taxes on Google and pay television operators like BSkyB could be used to subsidise rigorous journalism that would hold those in power to account.

The report by the Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK and Ireland endorses NUJ warnings of the destruction of original journalism in the newspaper industry due to commercial pressure.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The Commission's finding that some form of government funding is necessary to protect the public service value of the media is a welcome reflection of the professional view of journalists and their union. The report rightly identifies the 'creative cannibalisation' of news information, which job cutbacks and diminishing of conditions of employment have created in the newspaper industry.
"We have warned publishers and the public that this would lead to the loss of original journalism, which the Commission identifies.
"The declaration by the Commission that continuation of the licence fee is the best protection for the quality and critical freedom of the BBC as a public service is particularly timely when the corporation's bosses are failing to stand up for journalism at the BBC in the face of attacks on the licence by self-interested commercial rivals."

The report, funded by the Carnegie Trust, notes that a one per cent levy on BSkyB, Virgin Media and other pay television operators would generate £70 million a year, with a further £208 million brought in by a similar fee on the UK's five mobile phone operators.

If Google, which makes money by 'aggregating' the original journalism of others, were to meet its full tax liability in Britain, it is believed it would raise a further £100 million.

Tags: , tax, google, television, broadcasting, bskyb, virgin media, newspapers, bbc, licence fee, mobile devices, cuts, quality journalism, carnegie uk trust