Jowell: 'Public will pay more for local news'

Media Secretary Tessa Jowell has cited local news on the BBC as one of the services that the public is willing to pay a higher licence fee for.

Her announcement, based on research commissioned by the Department for Media, Culture and Sport, was welcomed by the NUJ.

Addressing the Royal Television Society conference last week, Jowell said of the research : "People agree that the BBC is a public service.

"And new services such as very local news and learning opportunities for 14- to 18-year-olds were seen to have a value for society at large beyond that for individual consumers, and the public are willing to pay for them."

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: "We welcome these findings and are not at all surprised that the public is willing to pay for quality programming and particularly for more local news on the BBC.

"This is a lesson that ITV, which has been slashing regional coverage, would do well to take heed of."

Jowell has confirmed that the licence fee will fund the BBC until 2016, with the new licence fee settlement expected to be announced in October.

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