Rona Fairhead: Trust Encouraging BBC to Partner With Local Press  

BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead told MPs this week that the Trust has been encouraging the BBC to work with the local press industry and explore partnership initiatives such as a “data bank” of BBC local news or a “pool of money” for local reporting.

Giving evidence at a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing on the BBC Charter Review Ms Fairhead said that the BBC needed to “open up more and be a better partner” and that the executive working to drive through cultural change.

She acknowledged that the regional press was “in a  pretty good state right now”  and outlined some of the ideas that were being explored with the industry for partnership.  

She said: “We’ve encouraged the BBC to work with the rest of the local and regional press. We think absolutely attribution should increase. We like the idea, and we understand the market does, of this data bank so BBC information and videos may be made available.

“There was talk of how you could have a pool of money for resources for local; this is another idea that should be thrown into the pot.

“I think if the objective is to make sure there’s high quality coverage of local and regional affairs and the BBC can help with that then they should seriously look into that.”

Earlier in the hearing, Ms Fairhead said the BBC executive needed to “more willing to partner.”

She said: “The executive has been very, very clear that it needs to become more open, less controlling, and much, much, much more willing to partner. I talked about it at the start of the meeting – this need to be more open and to partner more, this need to connect more and allow more interaction.

“I think the BBC is getting better but it still needs to open up more and be a better partner. There are good examples of partnership; the partnership on UKTV is a good partnership, the partnership on BBC Alba is a very good partnership, so the BBC can do it but there is a cultural mind set that needs to continue to be driven, and that will need to continue to be driven from the very top all the way through to make sure that that openness continues to become a reality.”

“The executive has been very, very clear that’s what they’re wanting and they’re driving that through.”