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BBC urged to broadcast regional publishers’ podcasts on its websites

Owen MeredithPress industry chiefs have urged the BBC to broadcast regional publishers’ podcasts on its digital platforms.

The News Media Association has made the suggestion as part of a proposal it believes would help to support commercial local journalism.

The trade body for the regional and national press wants to see the BBC Sounds audio download service opened up to podcasts produced by commercial publishers.

The proposal was one of a number of ideas touted by the NMA as part of its submission to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s inquiry into the sustainability of local journalism.

It also called for the UK Government to produce a package of “targeted, short-term financial measures to support local publishers’ transition to digital-first business models”.

The NMA’s plan for the BBC follows a row between the two organisations after the former’s chief executive Owen Meredith, pictured, claimed the latter’s plan to create a new network of digital community reporters represented a “direct threat to the economic sustainability” of the regional press.

The BBC hit back at the allegation, claiming there is “no evidence” that it “crowds out” local newspapers with its own regional coverage.

Podcasting has become an area of expansion for regional publishers in recent years.

Examples include the Laudable project, which has seen publishers Reach and JPIMedia unite to work with podcast specialists Entale and develop a local news platform for audio content, work with newsrooms to develop audio concepts and deliver “compelling audio experience for local audiences in the UK”.

HTFP has approached the BBC for a comment on the NMA’s plan for BBC Sounds.