In September, BBC Director-General Tony Hall unveiled plans for a pool of 100 public service journalists who would provide coverage of councils and courts for both the corporation and commercial news outlets.
The project was given the “thumbs down” by the regional press, which accused the corporation of “back door expansionism”.
But according to The Times, regional publishers and the corporation are also discussing a deal worth up to £3m which would see the BBC would pay for regional news reports as well as committing to improving its current links with local newspapers.
In April 2015, the BBC announced it would set up a content-sharing deal with the regional press as part of its Local Live web feed, which will be introduced across England by the middle of this year.
The scheme sees the BBC’s local news websites display links to stories carried by participating titles in the areas they serve.
The proposed new deal would fund 364 public service journalists, according to reports.
Ashley Highfield, pictured above left, Johnston Press chief executive, told the Times: “[The BBC] would be setting aside an amount to fund council reporting. But instead of the 100 journalists being employed by the BBC, and effectively being tanks on our lawns, the idea we are working through with them is that this could be an even bigger initiative with several hundred journalists.
“But they would be employed by us, and that is the difference, and commissioned to provide council and other quango reporting to the BBC.”
HTFP has asked the NMA for a comment.