Prof says local TV won't impact regional press

An independent report into the BBC proposed new local TV services has concluded that the corporation would be “unlikely to have significant impact on other players in local markets”.

And he has suggested that video news should be introduced to the BBC’s existing network of “Where I Live” sites immediately.

Professor Roger Laughton carried out the research into the BBC’s nine-month trial of “ultra local” TV news in the West Midlands from December 2005 to August 2006.

Regional newspaper editors have previously expressed concern that the huge resources of the BBC could stifle the development of their own internet video news services.

Professor Laughton’s report, which was commissioned by BBC managers, concluded: “daily recorded 7-10 minute bulletins and on-demand news items and features are unlikely to have a significant impact on other players in local markets.

“However, the BBC’s final plans will need to be open to scrutiny, communicated
clearly and, if agreed, implemented with a sensitivity to local market conditions. The
key should be to identify a strategy that maps both onto the BBC’s existing public
purposes and into its post-2014 strategic thinking. The timing of the introduction of
new services will be important.

“At the outset of this report, I suggested that local television and local video may
need to be considered separately when the BBC decides the form of its final
proposals.

“I consider the BBC has made the case for enhancement of its local news-gathering
resources and for the delivery of on-demand news bulletins and items to broadband
users in its local broadcasting areas, on screens wherever and whenever viewers can
be reached.

“In my judgement, broadband delivery will become increasingly
significant in the delivery of local news to households when IPTV becomes
widespread.

“The introduction of enhanced video news services on the Where I Live
sites should be considered immediately. The pilot demonstrated that take-up of on demand
news items increased throughout the nine months of the experiment.”

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