NEWS RELEASE

Release time: November 2008

The decision by the BBC Trust not to expand regional and local BBC web-sites with enhanced video news coverage has been labelled “a missed opportunity” by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

The Institutes’ Broadcasting Division – which has members throughout the BBC – said it was ” a crying shame” that the BBC Trust had crumbled in the face of pressure from “self-interested” regional newspaper owners.

Former BBC Radio 2 newsreader Paul Leighton, Chairman of the Institute’s Broadcasting Division said:

“If regional and local newspaper proprietors want protection from the so-called “unfair competition” they claim BBC local video services would have offered, perhaps they should consider providing decent local news coverage instead of sacking editorial staff and closing or merging newsrooms.”

“Some newspaper proprietors claim they are struggling to make money from local and regional papers. They should be asking themselves whether they have caused the problem themselves – by trying to line share holders and directors’ pockets at the expense of proper news coverage and journalists’ jobs.”

He added” It’s particularly telling that local newspapers which have maintained genuinely local news coverage by keeping journalists at work in their communities – like Sir Ray Tindle’s newspaper group – continue to make money and enjoy the respect of their readers. If only other owners had chosen a similar path, instead of whingeing about “unfair competition” from the BBC.”

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