Ashley – a former BBC technology director – said the corporation should stop trying to be “all things to all people.”
Speaking at the Newspaper Society AGM on Friday, he urged his former employers to partner with local media publishers to distribute its content to the public.
He also called for local newspapers to be”appropriately credited and rewarded” for creating content for the BBC and sharing it with them.
Said Ashley: “I suggest now is the time for Auntie to put on some different spectacles and start looking at local press differently: as a genuine partner to take the BBC to a wider audience.”
“Local newspapers and their associated web brands can actually bolster the BBC’s value if they stop viewing us as the competition and work with us to distribute their content.
“The BBC is one of the country’s most important cultural institutions and the relationship it has with us as a nation is truly astounding. But it’s not the BBC which has a direct relationship with people in Pocklington, Peterborough or Portsmouth. It’s us – the local media operators.”
“We can increase public value by increasing the reach of BBC content if the BBC allows us to access it – all of it – from video content to weather – free of charge, and take it to market.
“The BBC needs to stop trying to be all things to all people, and focus on what they are best at – creating world-class content.
“They can keep their regional brands – Look North, BBC North West et al, but close their underperforming local websites and work with us, rather than against us, as we become their local media distribution partner and fully utilise our own, highly trafficked, rapidly growing, hyper local sites.
“We’ll give proper attribution to that content, which ever medium we publish it in, whilst ensuring we keep our own local voice. This way, plurality of voice is maintained.
“In return the BBC can focus on being innovative whilst fulfilling its duty of delivering great education, information, and entertainment.”