The News Media Association has urged the BBC to reconsider plans to expand its own local news services.

MPs overwhelmingly believe that commercial local news media is vital for communities and must not be crowded out by the BBC’s expansion plans, new research has found.

Seventy-six per cent of MPs who participated in a YouGov survey in December agreed it is important that commercial news providers, for example local newspapers, are not marginalised by the BBC’s local news provision, while just six per cent disagreed.

Conservative MPs (78 per cent) were slightly more likely to voice concerns about independent local titles being crowded out by the BBC than Labour MPs (67 per cent), the research found.

NMA urge BBC to abandon UK expansion plans

The NMA has warned that the BBC’s proposals to ramp up its own local news services, laid out in the ‘Across The UK’ plans, could create a democratic deficit by putting independent local publishers out of business.

If the plans went ahead local publishers, who are recovering from the ravaging effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their businesses, would be forced to compete with a state-funded provider of local news on a scale never seen before, funded by vast taxpayer resource, the NMA has argued.

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “Quite rightly, MPs from across the political spectrum value independent local news media very highly and recognise the huge benefits trusted local journalism brings for communities.

“We urge the BBC to abandon the misguided plans to beef up its own local news services which would wreak havoc on the commercial local news sector.

“The BBC should instead seek to work in genuine partnership with local titles through initiatives such as the highly successful Local News Partnership which has delivered so much benefit to local communities in the form of local public interest journalism.”