Tony Hall: BBC Could Pay Local Press for Content

The BBC director-general has said the BBC is exploring ways in which it could pay local newspapers for content. 

Writing in The Times today, Tony Hall said the BBC was looking at ways it could work with the industry and “exploring what more we can do by sharing content or paying them for reporting.”

Mr Hall said the BBC needed to adapt and reform in the internet age, while helping to grow the UK’s creative economy which is “one of this country’s enormous strengths.”

He wrote: “Some blame the BBC for the challenges that other media face in adapting to the internet age — but that is a challenge faced by media around the world, including places that do not have a BBC or anything like it.

“But I do want to look at how the BBC can help. We are already working more closely with local newspapers to link to stories and are exploring what more we can do by sharing content or paying them for reporting.

“The BBC’s website is the only British representative in the world’s top 100. We want to use it to help others make their transition to the online world, asking how we can support organisations such as museums, galleries, theatres and universities too.”

Last week, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published a green paper which says that the Government will look at whether the BBC’s provision of “extensive free online content…distorts audience share in a way that undermines commercial business models.”

The consultation was received by the news media industry as a good starting point for looking in detail at the impact the BBC has on the commercial sector such as the local newspaper sector.

NMA vice chairman Ashley Highfield of Johnston Press has been appointed to an eight-person panel of media experts to advise the Government on the BBC Charter renewal process.

He said: “Local papers can be a genuine partner to the BBC sharing content to our mutual benefit. It is local papers that are best placed to reach local audiences.

“A symbiotic relationship between us would help the BBC fulfil its charter objective ‘to truly serve and reflect the nations, regions and communities that make up the UK’.”