Welcome to The Fix’s weekly news digest! Every week, we bring you important news stories from the world of media – and put them in a wider context.
A major media news development this week concerns upcoming financial troubles for the BBC, both in the short term and in the long term.
In the short term, the UK’s government announced it would freeze the license fee – an annual £159 (€190) tax paid by British citizens and a major source of funding for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Contrary to the BBC’s request, the fee will not be increased for two years. It will slightly rise with inflation starting 2024.
The BBC pushed to increase the license fee to £180, but the government declined to do so, according to Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, citing rising inflation concerns and a growing cost of living in the UK. The resulting budget shortfall will force the BBC to make programming cuts, its Director-General Tim Davie said.
In the long term, however, the BBC faces a larger financial challenge as the license fee is due to be abolished altogether in 2027. Boris Johnson’s Conservative government believes that the license model should be rethought, particularly in the light of American streaming giants’ success.
As The Guardian notes, “the BBC will have to negotiate with the government over an entirely new funding model when the final license fee funding deal expires in 2027 – with potential options including a subscription service, part-privatization, or direct government funding.”
More from The Fix: BBC [2019-2020] Annual Report Shows “Strong Year”, Need for More Reforms
Twitter lost a court case in France and has to disclose details on its approach to countering hate speech in the country, particularly the specifics of moderation resources deployed to counter hate speech in French.
As Reuters notes, the decision is “a win to advocacy groups that say the social network does not do enough” and want tougher controls over the platform’s handling of the problem. “The ruling sets France apart from countries such as Denmark, Britain and the United States, as the country’s stringent anti-racism laws allowed such litigation to succeed,” Reuters highlights.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) decided on its new president. Jodie Ginsberg, who served as CEO for Internews Europe and led the UK and Ireland bureau at Reuters, replaced Joel Simon, who stepped down last year after a 15-year tenure.
Ginsberg will start her tenure at the international nonprofit in April, moving from the UK to New York. She takes the job at a time when attacks on press freedom are growing across the world, and the number of journalists jailed for doing their job is at a record high.
More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: Ad Industry Growth, Record Number of Journalists Behind Bars
Axios, an American business news outlet that rose to prominence thanks in part to a strong roster of a free newsletter, launched a subscription product “Axios Pro” focused on deals across business sectors. It already includes newsletters on fintech, health tech, and retail; “Climate Deals” and “Media Deals” newsletters are coming soon.
Axios Pro isn’t priced for an average consumer – after a free trial, you’ll need to pay $600 a year for one newsletter (no monthly options are available) or $1800 for access to all newsletters launched in 2022.
As Nieman Lab notes, the pricing strategy makes Axios Pro similar to other enterprise media products like Politico Pro or Bloomberg Terminal, with a typical reader being “a venture capitalist, private equity investor, banker, trader, founder, [or an] executive.”
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