Friday, November 21, 2008

BBC Trust caves in

The BBC Trust has rejected proposals to allow the BBC to create up to 65 local online video news services. The decision was made in large part because the commercial lobby of the newspaper industry who said the plans would damage local journalism.

This is the very same industry which has cut thousands of jobs in loocal journalism over the past few months, which is imposaing pay freezes, which is under-resourcing newsrooms, which is cutting back on training budgets and which is closing titles. Trinity Mirror alone have closed 44 titles.

Cowed by critricism of the Brand/Ross affair the BBC Trust have failed local journalism.

Here's the statement the union put out a few minutes ago...

The rejection of plans by the BBC Trust for investment in local journalism is a missed opportunity to enhance local media.

The BBC Trust today turned down plans to create a network of 65 local online video news services.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: "This decision is a missed opportunity to improve local news for communities around the country.

"Local papers are closing and job cuts mean thousands of journalists don’t have the time to do their jobs properly anymore. ITV is withdrawing from its regional and local news commitments. Against a significant decline in local journalism, here was an opportunity to take a small step in the opposite direction by actually enhancing local news provision.

"The BBC made commitments to invest in local and regional news services. We expect the corporation to stick to its promises and ensure that other news services now benefit from this investment."

The plans were rejected after a vigorous lobby by the newspaper industry.

"Newspaper employers have spent years taking huge profits out of local media whilst cutting jobs. Now they have helped stop new jobs being created because they said such competition would stifle their investment.

"Now is the time for them to put their money where their mouth is and invest more in local journalism - in jobs, in training and in resources for hard-pressed newsrooms."

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