BBC Local Postscript: We Never Wanted To Do Hyperlocal Anyway


It’s a sad mark of the misunderstanding that characterised the BBC’s local video proposal that Auntie is only now able to be understood on what was known all along by anyone who read the original proposal (pdf) – there was never significant overlap with local newspapers’ own initiatives.

As David Holdsworth, the BBC’s acting director of English regions, reminded an Ofcom conference in Manchester on Tuesday (via PG): “There are three markets – there’s a regional market, a local market and there’s hyperlocal… that’s not an area the BBC wants to be in. The limit to our ambitions is local.” Indeed, each of the existing 65 BBC Local sites covers areas so large, they are effectively regional rather than local, and certainly have little in common with the albeit innovative efforts from publishers like Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) to drive news down to hyperlocal, postcode level. So was the paranoia over the Beeb’s plans just a a misunderstanding, or an attempt at protecting local papers’ threatened base? Understandable, perhaps; the clouds are still gathering for the local news biz…

CN Group layoffs: Local newspapers may have a mandate to create more local video, but are they going to have any staff left to produce it? The latest publisher to hand out redundancy notices is Carlisle’s family-owned CN Group, owner of the Carlisle News and Star and North West Evening Mail, which according to HTFP is cutting 30 jobs and freezing staff pay rises. The group has already decided to shut down or sell its radio stations in Banbury and Coventry.

Planning notice revenue threat: While commercial advertising revenue plummets for regional papaers, they could now be hit with the end of legislation compelling local authorities to advertise planning notices in local press, worth £15 million to the industry each year. MediaWeek reports housing minister Margaret Beckett is reviewing the system, much to the displeasure of the Newspaper Society, which is urgently seeking a meeting with her to ask for a re-think.

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