Newspaper publishers today urged the BBC to drop plans to extend its local news coverage amid fears it will threaten the future of independent local journalism.
The News Media Association, which represents national and regional publishers in Britain, accused the corporation of trying to become a ‘monolithic provider of news’.
The organisation’s chief executive Owen Meredith warned of the ‘direct threat to the strength and plurality of news’ posed by the corporation’s own local coverage amid proposals to create more than 100 digital reporter roles to cover local news.
Mr Meredith added that the BBC had given an ‘uninformed prediction of the demise of commercially viable local news media’ in its ‘Across the UK’ report last March.
It comes amid the debate in recent days over the licence fee after Ministers said the cost will be frozen at £159 for the next two years then rise to about £175 by 2027.
The BBC says it spends 10 per cent of the annual £3.5billion licence fee income on ‘online’ services, although does not give a specific breakdown for online news.
MailOnline contacted the BBC today to ask if this figure can be provided. The BBC’s online services also include the likes of Bitesize, CBeebies, Food, Sport and Weather.
It also spends up to £8million a year on the Local Democracy Reporting service which pays for 165 journalists to produce content used by local media providers.
Read more: BBC warned it is ‘threatening future of independent local journalism’ with plan to employ 100 more regional web news reporters