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BBC websites to display local newspaper content

The BBC has announced that it is to display regional newspaper content on its local websites via RSS feeds.

However no money is expected to change hands as a result of the move, which the BBC says is designed to help drive web traffic, rather than cash, to newspaper publishers.

The move was announced by the corporation’s controller of English Regions, David Holdsworth, at the Society of Editors’ conference.

It came as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlined a detailed timetable for the establishment of new independently-funded news consortia to provide regional TV news on Channel 3.

The DCMS has already pledged to set up three pilot IFNCs, in Scotland, Wales and in one English region.

A number of local newspaper publishes such as Johnston Press, DC Thomson, Northcliffe and Trinity Mirror have already announced their intentions to bid to run the proposed new services.

Today the DCMS said the region which will host the English pilot will be chosen before Christmas, with the winning bidders for all three pilots announced in March 2010.

The government also plans to press ahead with its proposal to fund the new news consortia in the longer-term by top-slicing the licence fee, although the BBC has vehemently opposed this.

Speeaking at the conference today, Mr Holdsworth said the BBC now accepted there should be “clear limits” on its activities in terms of local news.

He made clear there would be no attempt to resurrect the local news video proposals that were thrown out by the BBC Trust last year after a hard-fought campaign led by the regional press.

Mr Holdsworth said the BBC would be a “better neighbour” in future and pledged to develop new partnerships with the local press, including the proposed RSS feeds.

Speaking at the same session, Press Association managing director Tony Watson criticised politicians for focusing too much on the fate of regional TV news and not enough on the state of the regional press.

  • The BBC came under fire from Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan for “expressing great intentions” of working with the local press but he said “nothing ever happens”.

    Speaking in the following session, entitled ‘News for the Future’, the Northcliffe news chief said he had met with the Corporation on several occasions but always felt the BBC wanted “the pretence of partnership with its services” but they were meaningless to the local press.

    He also said that what newspaper groups wanted was for the BBC to stop “encroaching into our world”.

    BBC director of news Helen Boaden said she knew there was frustration among newspaper groups regarding potential content sharing but reminded the session that the BBC Trust had rejected the local video plans after campaigning from press publishers.

    She added that local newspapers were now producing their own online audio and video clips which was something already being done on BBC websites.

    Mr Meehan told HTFP that he was keen to explore the possibility of using the iPlayer technology for local press websites but this had been withdrawn by the BBC.

    “They want to present an image of commitment to partnership but it’s not really there,” he said.

  • Comments

    newsman (17/11/2009 08:54:47)
    I’d be interested to know just how many visitors some of these regional BBC websites get. Ours is dire and I understand from someone who works on one of them that they get their news from local papers anyway so what’s new about this? Just that they are going to link back to the paper they pinched it from? Big deal! Let’s face it, if the BBC didn’t get funding from us the taxpayer the regional TV news service is so poor it would be out of business inside a year. We have a real opportunity to offer an alternative through our newspaper websites so let’s take it and do it properly with updated bulletins throughout the day.

    Shuttleboy (17/11/2009 10:16:30)
    Presumably your dream will soon come true.
    The newspaper industry succeeded in killing off the BBC Local video proposals on the basis that those proposals would curtail the huge investment in online video that newspapers were all planning to make.
    That investment will presumably be coming soon as we have seen none of it in the year since the proposals were killed off.
    There will, presumably, be loads and loads of new video bulletins and reports on every local and regional newspaper website in the very near future.
    Unless, of course, the newspaper industry was lying just to head off any competition, but that couldn’t possibly be true….could it?

    richard meredith (17/11/2009 10:17:33)
    Well spotted ‘Newsman’. Here’s the alternative scenario: the dumbed-down, brown-nosed, cash-starved BBC needs local newspapers and their contact network far more than we need them. Beware of Greeks (aka overpaid oxbridge meeja types) bearing gifts I say !

    dandepan (17/11/2009 10:27:06)
    Nothing changes except the technology. Local BBC leeches off the hard work done by what is left of the local newspaper industry and doesn’t see why it should pay – hasn’t it always been that way?

    Harry (17/11/2009 15:48:52)
    Well, well…the Beeb tries to sue for peace. Well, the message from this editor is; “shove it”. Cut the licence fee, strip it back to a simple core news function and sell or junk the rest. Simples – even Sergei knows that.