THE BBC has been criticised after unveiling plans to hire 100 journalists to provide content for local newspapers as part of a radical shake-up of the way the broadcaster operates.

Director General Tony Hall announced the plans to expand the BBC’s local services on Monday as part of the Corporation’s attempt to head off government reforms under the renewal of its Royal Charter next year.

But Scottish Newspaper Society Director John McLellan said that the proposal would be a "Trojan Horse" which would undermine long-standing publications and destroy local news agencies.

The former editor of The Scotsman warned that the move could have dire consequences, saying “The newspaper industry has previously offered to partner the BBC by sharing its content with the Corporation but this plan turns that on its head.

“Instead of helping local news publishers, it would make the BBC even more powerful and would further concentrate coverage of news in the hands of the state-funded broadcaster.

“This plan actually goes against everything for which we’ve been arguing and just looks like the old, failed plan to hire an army of local video journalists by the back door under the guise of co-operation."

He said that the plan appeared to have been taken without any consultation from those who would benefit from the service, and that attempts at dialogue with the BBC had been fruitless.

Mr McLellan added: “This announcement has been made without any consultation, certainly not in Scotland. The SNS has repeatedly asked BBC Scotland for its views on news sharing and we have been completely ignored."

“If anything, this is more evidence of the BBC’s high-handed attitude towards commercial news providers by which they tell us what’s good for us and expect us to be grateful.

“Tony Hall has also chosen today to announce a new service for North Korea and I wonder if he’s aware of the deep irony in that.”

Lord Hall denied his plans were expansionist, but signalled the start of a new "open" Corporation which would partner other media and creative organisations.

In a settlement reached ahead of The Budget, the corporation agreed to help finance spending cuts by shouldering the cost of free television licences for people aged over 75.

It will cost the BBC an estimated £750 million by 2020, almost a fifth of its current annual income.

Lord Hall said that it meant the BBC would have to save 20 per cent of its income over the next five years at a time when its share of TV revenues was likely to fall.

Describing what the more "open BBC" would look like, he acknowledged that the mobile service it provided would need to be developed, adding that there would be a "bespoke BBC News" that would be the "backbone" of the broadcaster's global news operation.

Lord Hall announced: "In the future, the BBC would set aside licence fee funding to invest in a service that reports on councils, courts and public services."

The BBC's proposal says the aim is to put in place a network of 100 public service reporters across the country. Reporting would be available to the BBC but also to all "reputable" news organisations.

He added that the news service would be reconfigured to meet the expectations of audiences across the country.

"We will never give up our role in reporting the whole of the UK back to itself, but we also have to recognise that news in some parts of the country simply does not apply to others."