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Ofcom delays decision on whether BBC plans will ‘harm’ regional press

Henry Faure WalkerBroadcast regulator Ofcom has delayed its decision over whether the BBC’s planned investment in local news services will “harm fair and effective competition” in the sector.

Ofcom had been due to make a decision on the issue last week, but has now decided to push this back until the end of November.

Explaining the delay, the watchdog says it is still “considering views from the BBC’s competitors” over the matter.

It comes after the BBC last month announced plans to create around 131 new local news jobs.

The move, which has been criticised by regional press bosses, will see the corporation expand its daily online news provision for 43 local areas and launch dedicated websites covering Bradford, Wolverhampton, Sunderland and Peterborough.

Eleven teams of investigative journalists will be created too.

However, concurrent cuts will also lead to the proposed loss of 139 roles due to the introduction of increased programme-sharing across its network of 39 local radio stations in England.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker, pictured, had criticised what he perceived as a lack of action by Ofcom on the issue, saying the regional press industry was “disappointed by the passivity of that regulator”.

An Ofcom spokesman told HTFP: “We’re still considering views from the BBC’s competitors, and now expect to make a decision around the end of the month.”

The BBC has declined to comment.