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    Friday, 7 November 2008

    Referee or Cheerleader?: Newspaper Society calls for suspension of local websites PVT

    The Newspaper Society (NS) has called for the BBC Trust to suspend its public value test of the BBC's plans to develop its locally-oriented websites that might compete with local/regional newspapers (and there online offerings). Indeed, in a development of its campaign against the proposals, the NS is pursuing the matters through its solicitors.

    The complaint has a number of components. These include, first, that Ofcom's market impact assessment may be based upon inadequate market definition; secondly, that the conduct of the review process has been flawed, and finally that Sir Michael Lyons, the Chair of the BBC Trust, has predecided the issue - that he is acting more as cheerleader for than scrutineer of the BBC proposals. This follows recent comments made by Lyons to the effect that much of the country was poorly served by the regional press (leaving the way clear for a valuable new service from the BBC).

    Roy Greenslade has been active in commenting on the BBC's plans and the attendant dispute, and his posts provide valuable background and comment (1,2,3,4). Jeremy Hunt MP offered some thoughts on this theme when speaking at a Polis session recently at the LSE (comment; transcript).

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