Opposition leader David Cameron has stepped in to the furore surrounding the BBC’s plans to expand into “ultra local” television and media services funded by the licence fee.
Speaking at a Newspaper Society lunch this week he said he wanted to see rules to stop the corporation “from charging in” and putting other people “who are struggling to provide a market, out of work”.
However, a BBC spokeswoman says all its new services now face a market impact assessment by Ofcom.
Conservative leader Cameron told regional press chief executives, editors and their guests/ “I do think there is a problem with the BBC over-extending itself.
“We’ve all seen in our own constituencies small internet businesses, often involved in education or other information provision, working away to create a market, to make some money and then the BBC comes along and squish, like a big foot on an ant, that business goes out.”
However, a BBC spokeswoman argued: “The new governance arrangements, including the public value test with a market impact assessment by Ofcom, and Service Licences setting out clearly the expectations of BBC services, will ensure licence fee payers receive a quality public service from the BBC and an ex- tensive choice of services in the wider commercial market.”
The corporation is trialling “ultra-local” TV news services in the West Midlands and could roll the service out nationwide.
It has attracted criticism from organisations such as the Newspaper Society since announcing details last August, because of fears it will hasten the demise of regional newspapers.