Regional newspapers should receive payment from the BBC when it uses their stories, the president of the Newspaper Society has said.
Adrian Jeakings told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of MPs that newspapers should be “appropriately rewarded” for creating content for their websites and radio stations.
He told the hearing, which is looking into the future of the corporation, that the local press often found their stories repeated by the BBC without them being credited.
Adrian, who is also chief executive of regional publisher Archant, told the committee that the regional press would be interested in a “mechanism” where they could be paid for creating content for the BBC.
The select committee hearing, which was held this morning, looked into the position of the BBC in relation to the regional press and the commercial radio sector.
Adrian told MPs he believed that “unconstrained commercial expenditure by the BBC could if taken to its limit wipe out the local press”.
He also insisted that a system of payment for using local press stories on their websites would not be an indirect state funding of local newspapers.
Said Adrian: “If we could find a mechanism where by we would be appropriately rewarded for creating content for them and sharing it with them then we’d be very interested. Just stealing it though, we’re not keen on.
“The state would not be determining what content was created or indeed controlling what we said. They would be paying for what is supposed to be an independent broadcast medium to source content of relevance to its audience.
“It would be far more attractive to do it that way than any form of state subsidy for what we used to call the regional press.”
They said that the BBC did provide competition for the regional press and it did not face the “commercial constraints” which affected local newspapers.
Ian said: “We need our newsrooms to be protected. In a commercial environment, of course we must fight our own battles, but if that opposition, those threats are unfair, are being funded by the licence fee…that is what concerns us most.”
The regional press representatives also said only a very small percentage of their website traffic came from links on BBC websites.
Last week, HTFP published a chapter about the BBC in a new book by former Guardian editor Peter Preston, in which he urged regional editors not to fear local BBC websites.