BBC suggests alternatives to blocked local video plan

The BBC could improve its regional coverage by employing more reporters, having local government correspondents in each area and improving its sports coverage, according to a management blueprint.

Other options include more weekend television bulletins, more local radio opt-outs and improving coverage in “underserved”‘areas including Dorset and Cheshire.

BBC management has also proposed improving partnerships with local newspapers through sharing video, providing training, and increasing external links on BBC websites.

The proposals are revealed in management’s latest submission to the BBC Trust, in response to the trust rejecting its plan for local online video.

The report said the BBC has “purpose gaps” – failings – in “representing the UK, its nations, regions, and communities”.

“As such, we wish to share below some emerging thinking on possible options to improve our existing services,” it said.

Suggestion one is “better regional TV news throughout the week”, by having more weekend bulletins and additional reporters.

Suggestion two is “boosting coverage of local politics and civil society” by having a “dedicated network of local government correspondents” based in radio stations but also contributing to TV.

The third suggestion is “high quality local sport”, up to the standards of “the strong offer in Scotland”, and the fourth suggestion is more “radio news opt-outs” in devolved nations – particularly Scotland.

The report also suggests increasing coverage in “underserved areas”, such as Dorset and Cheshire, while the final suggestion is more “landmark factual programming””.

Under the partnerships section, management proposes sharing raw footage of diary news events, and sharing infrastructure with ITV.

It also proposes more links with other providers – mainly newspapers – including the BBC acting as a “trusted guide” to other content, and the BBC syndicating video footage.

“We note strong initial stakeholder opposition to the local video syndication proposal,” the report said.

“However, BBC management believes that syndication could still potentially drive not only the availability, consumption, reach and approval of BBC content but also benefit to the providers who choose to display BBC content on their own sites.

“The BBC could share the expertise and experience of its regional news teams to providing advice in training and mentoring in shoot and edit skills with local newspapers who wish to take up the offer.

“As relationships develop, so would other opportunities such as work placements or formal courses.”

The report concluded: “BBC management hopes this submission, and the emerging thinking it contains, helps to underline the importance it places in serving the UK’s nations, regions and communities.

“The discussion of possible developments in partnerships with other local and regional providers is intended to help advance dialogue with potential partners, and supplement the BBC Trust’s ongoing consultation on the BBC’s wider PSB [public service broadcasting] partnership proposals.”

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