UK national and regional newspaper publishers have this morning published a report which calls for the BBC’s digital news operation to be curbed to allow for its own commercial interests to prosper.
Trade body for the UK newspaper industry, The News Media Association, says it “fundamentally disagrees” with the BBC ambition to expand its online news services in the submission to the government green paper on the BBC charter review from consultants Oliver & Ohlbaum (O&O).
The NMA’s vice chair is also the chief executive of Johnston Press, Ashley Highfield – the publisher of many northern newspapers including The Yorkshire Post and the Lancashire Post which has regularly been in the headlines due to the changes being made in its structure and staffing levels.
In the report, Highfield says today: “The UK’s news media landscape will be best served by a BBC which genuinely collaborates with news media publishers rather than competing with them. This would make far better use of the BBC’s stretched resources while allowing space for commercial news media to innovate and thrive.
“The BBC repeatedly seeks to portray itself as a willing partner but all too often fails to deliver. The O&O report outlines a framework for cooperation through content-sharing targets and effective governance to enable the BBC to focus on what it is good at and make a positive contribution to a diverse UK media industry.”
In July, the BBC announced an expansion to a pilot scheme to work with local news providers of all sizes. The broadcaster had formed a Local Journalism Working Group, which included representatives from regional newspaper groups, academics and hyperlocal organisations in pilot areas including Leeds and the North East.
Titled UK News Provision at the Crossroads: The News Market in the 21st Century and the Likely Implications for the BBC’s Role, today’s 69-page report looks at the changing market for local, national and international news services and the BBC’s role within it, as part of the BBC Charter Review process.
It points out that news brands – newspapers in print and digital – followed by the BBC, are the two largest news providers in the UK and both are vital to the overall news ecology and to democracy.
The report calls on the government to implement 10 changes to the BBC objectives and governance.
You can read the full report here.