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Wednesday 2 September 2015

BBC Local News Lies Exposed

Earlier this year the News Media Association (NMA) passed before my inspection, and was revealed (read it HERE) to be an establishment lobby group, which claimed to be “The voice of national, regional and local newsbrands”, but which in reality was another front in the battle to diminish the BBC, with directors from the Barclay Brothers, Murdoch and Rothermere press all in attendance.
In July, they remained in the background, but now the NMA spokesman is none other than Mike Darcey, who is, by the merest coincidence, CEO until the end of the week at News UK, a taker of the Murdoch shilling, although, as the Guardian observes, his “role at News Uk has been subject to continued speculation”. Like when the twinkle-toed yet domestically combative Rebekah Brooks returns next Monday, he’ll be on his way out.

To no surprise at all, Darcey claims “News brands are successfully making the transition to a sustainable digital world, despite undoubted challenges and risks along the way … The BBC must not be given free rein to jeopardise that transition by expanding its local or international news services under the guise of providing a universal solution for a market failure which doesn’t exist”. The piss-poor SunNation website, to no surprise, agrees.

As the Guardian explains, “The 69-page NMA report argues that at a local level, the BBC’s drive to create its own suite of local news services across the UK is ‘unnecessary and risks damaging the local press sector’ … At a national level, the report claims that the editorial scope of the BBC’s services are rapidly expanding beyond its core news remit into traditionally commercial editorial areas such as ‘soft’ news articles, magazine ‘lifestyle’ content, and celebrity columnists”. But one thing is missing.

That thing is advertising. And what is driving the all too real market failure in the local news sector is that advertising revenues have gone down the chute big time in recent years, as all those pages of job adverts, car adverts, property adverts and even general for sale adverts have wasted away, the advertisers and their customers having migrated to online platforms. That has absolutely nothing to do with the BBC.

But on ploughs the NMA with more finely crafted bullshit: “This is a key issue related to the broadening of the BBC’s online editorial scope in that it blurs the distinction between public service and commercial content … Today, it can be argued that the growth of BBC Online is pushing the BBC into more competition with the commercially funded news sector”.

The Beeb is still not flogging motors or houses, though. And, talking of flogging houses, previously a staple for local newspapers one evening a week, much of that advertising has gone to new market entrants likes Zoopla, which is part-owned by Countrywide Estate Agents … and the Daily Mail and General Trust. That would be the same DMGT which has a representative on the board of … the NMA.

So that’s another case of “Physician, heal thyself”, then. What a bunch of hypocrites.


Anonymous said...

"...the growth of BBC Online is pushing the BBC into more competition with the commercially funded news sector”.

Er, I thought "competition" was supposed to be a "good" thing?......But it's not of course. Bertrand Russell pointed out the obvious almost a hundred years ago, that competitors killed each other off to achieve, er, monopoly of profits and price fixing. Hence cartels (which in the West are owned not by "oligarchs" but by "entrepreneurs").

ALL important markets are rigged. The only sensible question is: What do we rig them for.....public good or individual profiteering for a small group of corrupt egomaniacs? One look at how this country has gone down the toilet in the last thirty-odd years will provide a hint of the answer.

Murdoch and his apologists and employee cowards are just the latest species of reptile in the slime.

Andy McDonald said...

We rig core markets because the alternative is the last ten minutes of Trading Places - good for a few, but not so good for others.

Once again the old (print) media insisting that everyone play by their out of date rules, because, errm... Just because. Nothing to do with the fact that they've been starved of revenue and don't know how to adapt.

SteveB said...

I'd like to agree with you but look at BBC "Local" news in Crewe. It's uncoordinated crap and in being so doesn't give the paper rags much to rise up to. Some in the BBC think we are in the West Midlands (not according to any government since at least the last War) and Radio Stoke is supposed to be our news source - but they don't venture to the northern or western reaches of CEC. The TV people correctly say we are North West and put us under the Manchester newsroom - except they don't speak to Stoke!!! In some cases reporters from Manchester have got hold of south west CEC stories which are closer to Chester than Stoke so fed them to Chester's "local radio" - which is Radio Merseyside!!! And the laugh is that the very newspapers who would like to see BBC trimmed back are harvesting stories from it!!!

Anonymous said...

Our local papers are largely full of nothing stories.

As an example from the last few days.

Saturday. On Monday work will start on a project
Monday. Work will start on a project today
Tuesday. Work started on a project yesterday

Each story the same apart from a different photo!

The other local paper doesn't even work properly on tablets due to the number of adverts they have to show.

Unknown said...

Good article, Tim.

Whilst I knew all about Zoopla being owned by the Daily Mail & General Trust, I hadn't joined the dots to their sheer hypocrisy in criticising the Beeb for its "market-destroying" local news & radio.

Paul said...

Local papers in the digital age: just follow the Bristol Post and the Cornishman on Twitter and see how often they simultaneously tweet non-news from neither Bristol nor West Cornwall.