Local newspapers might have little to fear, says report

AN independent report has found that local newspapers may have no reason to fear BBC plans to broadcast ‘ultra local’ TV, which last week took a new twist when BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, told the Society of Editors annual conference in Glasgow that the Corporation might even pay local papers for content.

Says Professor Roger Laughton, any ‘ultra local’ TV services run by it would be “unlikely to have significant impact on other players in local markets”.

His conclusion follows research into the BBC’s nine-month trial of ‘ultra local’ TV news in the West Midlands from December last year to four months ago.

Regional newspaper editors have previously expressed concern that BBC could stifle the development of their own internet video news services.

Professor Laughton’s report, which was commissioned by BBC managers, concluded: “Daily recorded 7-10 minute bulletins and on-demand news items and features are unlikely to have a significant impact on other players in local markets.

“However, the BBC’s final plans will need to be open to scrutiny, communicated clearly and, if agreed, implemented with a sensitivity to local market conditions. The key should be to identify a strategy that maps both onto the BBC’s existing public purposes and into its post-2014 strategic thinking. The timing of the introduction of new services will be important.”