BBC's 'bereavement' over local video rejection

There is a sense of ‘bereavement’ in the BBC after its local online video plans were rejected, the corporation’s director of nations and regions said today.

Pat Loughrey also told an industry conference in Salford that he doubted whether other news organisations would make the most of online local video and provide what the BBC would have done.

The BBC Trust ruled in November that the plan to provide daily video news packages on the BBC’s 65 local websites was not a suitable use of licence fee money and risked harming commercial media groups’ nascent online video attempts.

Rejecting the proposal, Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons said he personally hoped that the ban would give the regional media the confidence to invest in web video themselves.

Loughrey told the Television from the Nations and Regions conference in Salford this afternoon: “I, like many of my colleagues, still have a sense of bereavement about the BBC’s local television proposal.

“I for one do not believe that the market will provide in the next five or 10 years anything like the vision that we had and the investment that we could have brought.”

He added: “I’m convinced that we could have done that without significantly affecting the prospects of commercial players.”

Loughrey admitted that moving a number of BBC journalists from London to the new MediaCity complex in Salford in 2011 would be “painful” for some involved.

“None of us derive satisfaction from making many colleagues redundant in one place to finally deliver elsewhere, but that is effectively what we’re doing,” he said.

“Corrective surgery is painful. People will lose their jobs or be obliged to move.”

He added: “It is not always warmly greeted. People have built their lives and careers around the expectation of continuity of production from the capital. That has got to change and it’s painful.”

Loughrey defended the move out of London, adding: “The organisation I joined [in 1984] spent 80 per cent of its income, which it gathered democratically across the whole UK, where only 20 per cent of the population lived. That cannot be defensible.”

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