Thompson extends olive branch to regional editors on ultra local TV

The BBC may purchase content from regional newspapers as part of its plans for "ultra-local" television news, director general Mark Thompson told the Society of Editors conference in Glasgow today.

And he held out an olive branch to regional newspaper editors who have been deeply suspicious about the corporation's plans to roll out ultra local TV on their patches.

He insisted that the BBC could work in partnership with local papers and that it would not seek to emulate their level of coverage.

Thomson said: "If we go ahead with our vision of local TV, the scale of what we offer will be limited  – we have in mind a core of what will be no more than ten minutes of audio-visual material per day, delivered over broadband and possibly also by digital satellite and cable. Editorially it would aim to complement the market.

"There would be particular focus, for instance, on local democracy and community issues."

He added: "Above all we would commit to working with rather than in opposition to other providers of local news and information. The BBC's local TV is intended to enrich our current local offering, represented by local radio in England by our Where I Live sites across the UK.

"It will not be any more local than they are – that means that on average each local TV service would hit a catchment of around a million people. This is not the hyper local service that some of critics worry about."

He said that the the West Midlands local TV trial, which worries so many regional newspapers, will be subject of a market impact assessment before it is rolled out across the rest of the country.

He said: "There is no evidence, either in the West Midlands trial or more generally, that web usage in the field of local information is substitutional in the way that some forms of conventional media are."


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