BBC Trust approves scheme to extend local news services

The BBC Trust has approved revised plans for the corporation to enhance its local TV and radio services in the regions and nations.

Under the new plan annual “state of the nation/region” journalism initiative would be established in each designated BBC region with the introduction of a more “geographically representative” newsgathering operation.

Geographically targeted sports coverage would also be developed along with a fund for programming in the English regions, distinctive factual programming in the devolved nations and a regional radio opt out on national radio services in Wales and Scotland.

This latest venture replaces the plan for a network of hyper-local video news websites across the country that were rejected by the Trust in February because the negative impact it could have on the commercial sector outweighed the potential public value created by introduction.

The hyper-local plan met with strong condemnation from large parts of the local media industry which complained that it could damage the development of fledgling online services.

The BBC Trust said today: “Unlike the local video proposal, the new plans build upon the BBC’s existing linear services, and improve the range and quality of regional television and radio output.”

Cost of delivering these new measures, the Trust said, would be covered by efficiency savings within BBC’s nations and regions.

In addition, the Trust said it had also approved plans for more landmark factual programming in the devolved nations and improvements to nations and regions linear TV and radio news including coverage of local government.

It added: “Investment in linear services may also generate a consequential small increase in the amount of video material that is also available online, although BBC management expects this to be very limited and in line with the terms of the service licence for bbc.co.uk. The Trust intends to monitor this closely.”

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