Culture Secretary Sajid Javid says the BBC’s impact on the local press will be looked at as part of the corporation’s charter review.
Mr Javid, pictured left, spoke to regional press political editors at a Newspaper Conference lunch in Westminster this week, adding he had “always had a love affair” with local newspapers.
His comments came as a report by BBC Head of News James Harding argued that the corporation would have to do more to provide local news amid what it called “the decline of the regional press.”
The Future of News report, published on Wednesday, claimed there was now a “democratic deficit” in parts of the UK where local news was going unreported.
The Charter review, which sets out the public purposes of the BBC, will be carried out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport which Mr Javid now heads.
Mr Javid told the lunch: “When we say that the importance of local press is recognised, it’s unique, it’s important to civil society – what can we do about it at a very practical level to try and make a difference?”
Discussing the BBC’s local operations, he added: “What impact is that having on local press? Is it pushing others out? Can it actually help in some way?
“A number of those will have to be looked at during the charter review process but I think it’s right to ask those questions and set that out now.”
He said: “I recognise the huge importance of local press. That includes not just the reporters that are based locally but also the ones like yourselves doing the job here in Westminster, making sure that news in picked up here, taken back to your local towns, your cities and all the areas that your paper represents.
“I was brought up in Bristol and I always had a love affair with newspapers for as long as I can remember.
“I used to go on a long bus journey to school and people used to leave their newspapers on the bus at the back so that’s how I first got into it.”