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Are the Tories trying to spin their way into the regional press’s good books?

Earlier this week the Tories made a bit of a splash in some quarters by announcing plans to allow newspaper groups to provide regional TV news using funding top-sliced from the BBC licence fee.

It was of course good to see David Cameron and co taking such an interest in the future of the industry, but I couldn’t help thinking it was slightly opportunistic on their part, given that the creation of new regional news consortia was a key aspect of the Digital Britain report published by the government last month.

Shadow Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt berated Digital Britain for what he called its "lack of radicalism," but although it failed to spell out a role for local newspaper companies in TV news provision in words of one syllable, this was implicit in the proposal and was widely reported as such in the trade media.

As HTFP reported at the time, "newspaper groups, TV broadcasters and other news media organisations are expected to benefit" from the top-slicing proposal. Indeed the Press Assocation has already launched a local news pilot that seems to be putting down an early marker for a share of the funding.

Fair play to the Tories for getting a few headlines – that is their job after all – but essentially what they have done here is taken someone else’s idea and given it a fresh angle.

And I thought it was just journalists who were supposed to do that sort of thing…..

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