BBC drops plans for local web sites

Newspapers across the UK heaved a sigh of relief after the BBC Trust scrapped plans to launch a £68 million network of over 60 local news websites with video content, as it did not find any merit in the plans.

British media regulator Ofcom also rejected the proposal, saying it would hurt rivals in the private sector, including the web sites of newspapers.

Small newspapers have all along been opposing the plan as they feared that the move by the state-funded broadcaster could damage or squeeze out their own online operations.

Sir Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, said the proposal did not meet its criteria for offering value to the public and that it would be better for BBC to concentrate on improving the quality of existing services.

While the rewards on investment would also be not commensurate with the planned investments, he said , it would, on the other hand, help generate negative interest in commercial media.

''It is clear from the evidence that, although licence-fee payers want better regional and local services from the BBC, this proposal is unlikely to achieve what they want. We also recognise the negative impact that the local video proposition could have on commercial media services which are valued by the public and are already under pressure," Lyons said.