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BBC Trust pulls plug on local video plans

Fails public value test

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The BBC Trust has rejected the broadcaster's plans to set up local video news sites for different areas of the country.

The £68m proposal was to improve local news sites for 60 locations and five extra Welsh language services. The plan required 400 staff and a four year budget of £68m. The sites would offer news, sport and weather as well as BBC and user generated video content. Local newspaper groups and radio stations, already seeing a decline in ad revenues, reacted with horror to the plans.

Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, said: "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. The Trust applied a Public Value Assessment which found the service would no "create significant new reach or impact in return for the investment of license fee funds.".

Lyons said the Beeb should concentrate on improving the quality, and local focus, of existing programmes and services.

A Market Impact Assessment carried out by Ofcom predicted a 4 per cent fall in revenue for commercial radio and local newspapers offering similar services.

The decision is now open for public consultation ahead of a final decision on 5 January.

The Trust further ruled today that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should receive no more punishment for their part in Manuelgate. And that because of the credit crisis BBC managers should manage without their bonuses this year. ®

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