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Restrict BBC expansion says veteran editor

One of the UK’s most distinguished editors today laid the blame for the regional press industry’s plight firmly at the door of the BBC.

Ed Curran, former editor of the Belfast Telegraph and now editor-in-chief of its parent company Independent News and Media’s Northern Ireland operations, says the industry’s decline since the 1960s has coincided with the corporation’s expansion.

Speaking to the Culture, Media and Sport committee, he said: “I do regard the BBC as a bogeyman.

“My personal view is that the BBC needs to be restricted in the way it expands, particularly in the regions. Since the 1960s, I think its expansion in the regions has been detrimental to the regional media.

“In a region like Northern Ireland the BBC employs more journalists than all three daily newspapers in Belfast put together. It’s almost impossible to compete against that.”

He said that the corporation had already poached most of the best journalists in the province to work on its internet sites.

Newspaper Society director David Newell said the challenge from the BBC was now greater in the era of digital convergence where its local online offerings are competing against newspaper companion sites.

“The BBC is a big, big powerful beast in that its total licence fee income is greater than all the revenues of the regional press put together.”


John (09/07/2009 09:02:19)
Makes sense what he’s saying. But what can be done, really.