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BBC to scrap Local Live news feeds to trial 'improvements' to online regional news offering

BBC News is looking to phase out its online rolling news feeds for English regions, which were designed to improve linking to local newspaper stories.

The Local Live pages were rolled out across the BBC News website between 2015 and 2016 as “part of a BBC commitment to contribute to a healthy local journalism sector”, the corporation said at the time.

Regions covered include London, the south east, the north west, the north east and the midlands.

The feeds contain short news, sport and weather updates, with links from local and hyperlocal news providers in each area. The frequency of external links to news providers appears to vary hugely between region.

The BBC has now confirmed that after fewer than three years of being in full service, it will soon begin phasing out Local Live in the north east.

If this trial is successful, Local Live will be wound down across England by the end of 2019. The BBC said it was trying out a new strategy, but would not go into further detail as a number of ideas are still being investigated.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We’re improving how we provide news to local and regional audiences across England to ensure our digital offer is as effective as it can be.

“We provide significant support to the local news sector and will continue to direct users to trusted external news websites.”

Press Gazette understands some new digital services will start to be tested next month, and that these are expected to continue incorporating external links to local news publishers.

The BBC will still carry links to other relevant regional news sources at the bottom of news articles. It is understood these are more effective at generating traffic for regional titles than those within the Local Live blogs.

People can still see news from their city or region on local topic pages on BBC news online.

Users entering their postcode to find their relevant regional pages are now shown a page explaining how the BBC’s local news offering is changing.

“We’re making the way we deliver local news more local and more personal,” it says.

“We are constantly working on improving the local news experience and will be adding more features in the following months.”

In 2015, David Holdsworth, then controller of BBC English Regions, said Local Live and its improved linking of local newspaper stories across the country was “an example of a way the BBC can also contribute to a thriving local news market”.

The BBC has since launched the Local News Partnership with the News Media Association to bolster scrutiny of public bodies through the appointment of nearly 150 Local Democracy Reporters across the UK.

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