Newsquest chief executive criticizes BBC plan to ramp up local news online

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently announced that it will redirect critical resources from its well-respected local radio offerings to digital local news which will result in The BBC competed directly with local commercial news publishers Connected.

You’ll see BBC Creation of 11 investigative reporting teams across the country while increasing the provision of daily online news to 43 localities, launching dedicated websites covering Bradford, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Peterborough, with a total of 131 new local news jobs created.

However, Henry Fore Walker, CEO at Newsquestwhich publishes 200 news brands including this one, on BBC Media ShowHe said: “We are very concerned about the BBC’s expansion of local news online. We think it has the potential to be very harmful.”

“It will undermine the efforts of ourselves and other commercial news publishers to build a sustainable future as it diverts eyeballs away from our sites – which we depend on to drive advertising and digital subscription revenue – to the BBC.”

Fore Walker’s comments followed an interview on the same program with the BBC’s director of domestic countries, Rhodri Talvan-Davies, who defended expansion plans which include launching in areas such as Bradford, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Peterborough.

But Fore Walker said: “We are the proud publishers of the Telegraph & Argus newspaper in Bradford. We employ 18 local journalists in Bradford and believe the market is very well served. We reach around 80% of Bradford’s population every month so I don’t see a need for the BBC.” to enter this space.

He added, as he called Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator to step in: “The BBC should not use the license fee to do things the commercial news sector already does well and make it tougher for local news publishers.”

Talvan Davies told host Katie Razal: “We are not here to steal market share from anyone. We are here to provide a consistent and reliable news service to local communities as our charter requires of us.”

The interview can be heard here.

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