The BBC Trust has rejected plans to launch a localised broadband TV news service. The project that would have cost some £68 million over five years had come in for severe criticism from local newspaper groups that feared the BBC would use the licence fee to provide a service that was in direct competition to their own plans.
BBC Local was proposing to provide local news, sports and weather in 60 areas across the UK, with an additional five Welsh language sites. The Trust has now ordered the BBC to instead invest the money in the improvement of its existing local and regional services.
The Trust’s decision comes at a time when ITV is reducing its commitment to regional television news provision. Commercial radio has also reduced the amount of local news broadcast outside of peak listening hours. Like their national counterparts, regional newspapers are increasingly using video as part of their website offer. The BBC Executive has accepted the decision.
In a separate statement Ofcom said its Market Impact Assessment (MIA) had found the service would have a “significant negative impact on commercial providers”.
In 2005 and early 2006 the BBC ran an interactive news pilot in the West Midlands. Ten minute news bulletins from five local areas ran on interactive television and on demand from the BBC website.