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25 March 2021

Backlash Grows Over BBC Local Journalism Expansion Plans

The backlash is growing against the BBC’s surprise announcement of plans for a new network of "digital community journalists" with senior industry figures branding the proposals a “direct assault on the commercial media.”

In a piece for The Yorkshire Post, David Montgomery said any support should be directed to existing and new independent local and regional media organisations instead being channelled into the expansion of the BBC.

Mr Montgomery, executive chairman of JPI Media, said: “There is more than enough spectrum on all platforms for the country to be enriched by commercial media providers with their roots in local communities rather than an inefficient, stagnating blow-in from London that has somehow discovered the regions at the tail-end of its existence.

“Let other providers have a turn - there is an abundance of talent in the regions that can surface under its own steam without the assistance of the BBC. That would be genuine creative and geographical diversity.”

In an op ed published in local titles this morning, Mr Faure Walker warned the plans represented “a new threat to independent local journalism.” 

“Local news is already provided by commercial outlets and an intervention of this type by the BBC, funded by the licence fee, could seriously hurt local news titles,” Mr Faure Walker said.

“The BBC seems to have completely forgotten about the very successful Local News Partnership it enjoys with the independent local news sector which boosts public interest journalism without distorting the marketplace.

“Any new investment in local journalism by the BBC should be channelled through the existing partnership which has been widely praised here in the UK and imitated in countries across the world.”