Report of Tory plans places question mark over Scottish news pilot

THE Tories would scrap plans to fund local news provision on Channel three from the TV Licence Fee were they to win the General Election taking place next year – according to media reports.

Says yesterday’s Financial Times, the Tories would reverse government plans to ‘top-slice’ the TV Licence Fee to the tune of £130 million, to help pay for local news on Channel three.

Commonly, the plan – which appeared in a recent report into Britain’s digital future – is being interpreted as BBC cash being syphoned off to run local news on commercial TV.

The plan has chosen Scotland to host one of three pilots, from next year, where local news on channel three would be provided following a bidding process involving news consortia, with two likely bids already known about: one from STV and another from the publishers of The Scotsman, The Herald and the Press and Journal newspapers.

In an interview, Jeremy Hunt, the Tory shadow culture secretary, also says that, were his party to win a majority at Westminster, broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, could expect to have some of its powers removed. There would be moves too to replace the BBC Trust.