The Conservatives appear to have come down on the side of local papers in the battle over the BBC’s plans to create a new network of local video news websites.
Shadow culture minister Jeremy Hunt is expected to reject the BBC’s local video proposals in a speech being made at the London School of Economics tomorrow.
The BBC is currently proposing to create a network of 65 local video news websites with a £68 million investment over five years.
Both the regional newspaper and commercial radio industries are strongly resisting the moves which they claim will strangle their own efforts to make money from online.
The proposals are currently being considered by the BBC Trust, which will publish its findings on 27 November.
The Telegraph today reports that Hunt will say: ‘In an increasingly difficult advertising market why should local newspapers have to face the additional threat of subsidised competition from the BBC? I don’t think they should and I hope the BBC Trust takes a strong stance on this proposal.
“These proposals also threaten the development of new ultra local television services, something I think we should be helping not stifling. This is a big test for the Trust and one in which I hope they stand up to the BBC management.”