BBC local no threat to newspapers

The regional media are lining up to put the dampeners on the BBC’s plans to roll out their BBC local TV.

According to journalism.co.uk Andy Griffe, controller of BBC English Regions, has been trying to persuade Regional newspaper execs that they can ‘co-exist happily’ with the beeb.

But, predictably, they don’t agree.

Mark Dodson, chief executive of GMG Regional Media, said he hoped that plans for the role out of the service could ‘be put quietly to sleep’ now that the BBC had received an unfavourable licence fee review.

Tim Bowdler, chief executive of Johnston Press, told the Forum: “The BBC should not be allowed to launch new services which compete in markets already well served by established commercial players.

“I have seen no clear evidence to suggest there is a massive unfulfilled public need requiring the BBC to launch ultra-local TV services. If they are permitted to do so commercial enterprises will undoubtedly be deterred from investing in such services.

“The BBC’s Where I Live websites are already attracting a huge audience. In part to the detriment of local newspaper websites.”

I’m not sure that I can agree that the commercial interests already serve the markets to the full. The ever present commercial drivers don’t always sit too well with that . But will the huge (compared to even the most forward thinking of print groups) financial and production clout that the beeb can wield coupled with a more robust brand be too much for a fledgling and patchy commitment by the print boys?

It’s already difficult to balance the editorial value of online (community, video, broader scope) with the fast-paced economics but the pressure of the Beeb entering the fray may be the nail in the coffin for digital investment.

I’m not convinced it’s all disaster. I’ve made the point before that I think the broadcast indusrty is still labouring (through size and lack of vision) under a shovelware concept of re-broadcast. But it would be a shame to see the newspaper hitch-up skirts and run now when they have come so far.

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