Friday, November 21, 2008

Local Lifeline

Common sense has prevailed again at the BBC Trust as they reject plans for the BBC's ultra local services; the impact it would have had on local newspapers - a collapsing market - would have been devastating. Below are some of the circulation falls that happened to daily newspapers in Wales between 2006 and last year; I suspect the ensuing year has been even worse for them:

Welsh Dailies Circulation Falls

2006 - 2007

Wrexham Evening Leader

-3%

Daily Post

-8.9%

Denbighshire Free Press

-3%

North Wales Weekly News

-7.6%

Rhondda Leader

-7.4%

Pontypridd Observer

-8.2%

Merthyr Express

-5.6%

Western Mail

-5.5%

South Wales Echo

-10.2%

South Wales Evening Post

-6.2%

Carmarthen Journal

-4.3%

Cardigan Advertiser

-4.1%

Western Telegraph

-3.5%

Milford Mercury

-5.7%

(Press Gazette)


As the above businesses try to move their readership online, free and professionally produced competition from the Beeb would have seen many of them fail.

The BBC also finds it difficult to operate on a local level - its support for outpost studios is notoriously bad and it ha constantly attempted to centralise its services.

However, there remains an efficient vaccum for hyperlocal content, including hyperlocal TV services which the money being carved from the BBC's licence fee by OFCOM could go some of the part towards funding this. The trouble here is that one subsidised service is being replaced with another.

In the US local TV stations have long been a mainstay of their broadcast industry and Internet TV now offers similar options in the UK for a combination of syndicated and local content. ITV's strategy of trying to preserve largescale mainstream audiences instead of aggregating smaller, potentially more valuable, audiences will, I suspect, prove to be wrong.

The only question is - will existing news providers step up to the mark in these difficult times, or is this an opportunity for new businesses to establish themselves ?

2 comments:

Bradley said...

One could argue that these publications should have tried moving with the times and moved to the web (and subsequently, digital video) earlier. So their circulation may have fallen with their on line presence growing.

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