Local papers triumph over BBC’s online video plans

Regional newspaper publishers have triumphed in the battle against the BBC’s plan to invest £68m in video-led local websites. The BBC Trust has decided the broadcaster should not press ahead with plans because the sites would not improve services for the public.

The Trust, which published its findings today (November 21) found that the creation of local video by the BBC would not improve services for the public enough to justify either the investment of licence fee funds or the negative impact on commercial media. The decision followed an investigation made in conjunction with Ofcom.

The Newspaper Society, on behalf of regional newspaper publishers, had been aggressively lobbying against the BBC proposal, claiming that it would stifle the growth of publishers’ digital businesses.

Newspaper Society director David Newell says: “This is a proposal which the BBC should never have made and would have severely reduced consumers’ media choice and the rich tapestry of local news and information provision in the UK”.

He adds that the society will now be seeking a meeting with Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, to discuss the future roles of the BBC, BBC Trust and Ofcom and the current challenges facing regional and local media.

He says: “We must be on our guard to ensure that the BBC is not allowed to expand its local services by alternative means.”

The Trust’s decision against local video content is now open to public consultation until January 5. It will publish its final decision on February 25.

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