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18 March 2021

NMA: BBC Has Forgotten Progress Made Through Local News Partnership

The BBC should rethink its announcement of a new network of "digital community journalists" and instead channel any extra investment in local news through the existing Local News Partnership with the local news media sector, the News Media Association said today.  

Responding to the announcement today of BBC’s plans for a network of digital community journalists, NMA chairman Henry Faure Walker said the "ill-advised" new venture would hurt independent local news providers at a time when they are needed by the public more than ever. 

This morning, BBC Director-General Tim Davie announced a "big investment in BBC local reporting" as part of its "blueprint for the biggest transformation in decades."

HoldtheFrontPage reported that the BBC will create a new network of more than 100 reporters to cover some of the UK’s “most under-served communities”, while it is also to create up to six new peak-time BBC local radio services .

Mr Faure Walker said: "Despite progress in recent years to work in genuine partnership with the independent local news media sector, it appears today that the BBC has forgotten this and is yet again seeking to encroach on territory already catered for by commercial players.   

“Through the Local News Partnership - which includes the widely-praised Local Democracy Reporting Service - the BBC and the local news media sector have successfully forged a partnership which has provided a shot in the arm for local public interest journalism. Crucially, this has been achieved without state competition distorting the marketplace.  

“Any new investment in local journalism by the BBC should be channelled through the existing LNP and most certainly not through this ill-advised new venture which will hurt independent local news providers at a time when they are needed by the public more than ever.”