With the BBC about to submit its proposals for ultralocal news to the BBC Trust for approval, Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey told peers that the move could distort the market at the expense of the newspaper industry.
‘Our concern is that if the BBC moves online ever more locally, they – without the same kind of commercial constraints as us – will distort those markets making it much more difficult for us to enter.”
She told the House of Lords Communications Committee: ‘We are very big supporters of the BBC. But we must not allow the BBC to distort these embryonic markets.”
Her comments follow other warnings from newspaper publishers about the the BBC’s plans to develop ultra-local services, which the BBC Trust must approve before they go ahead.
Bailey also told the all-party committee, which is probing the impact of newspaper ownership on news, that competition law needs to be loosened because it was threatening newspapers.
She told the committee that Trinity had just closed eight free newspapers in Derby and Peterborough which Trinity Mirror had wanted to sell to Johnston Press in 2001 but had been overruled by the Competition Commission.
Paul Vickers, group legal secretary and group legal director of Trinity Mirror, said that had the Competition Commission allowed the sale to go ahead ‘we think they would still be there”.
Bailey told peers that Trinity Mirror was one of the few media organisations making money online and dismissed fears related to the peers by the NUJ that changes in the industry were producing poorer journalism.
‘The best journalists are increasingly multi-skilled,’she said.