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Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch calls for regional media to be given a level playing field

28 February 2014


As many readers will know, I sit on the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

One of the inquiries we are conducting is about the future of the BBC. This is being done in advance of government discussions with the broadcaster on the renewal of its royal charter.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford.

The BBC has been in existence for 90 years, and was initially set up as a private radio broadcaster. Since its establishment, it has expanded dramatically into television, film and online content.

It is the size and scale of the BBC that often cause so much interest from commercial providers, since it delivers all its content without advertising revenue but with television license funding.

It was, therefore, fantastic to have Kent Messenger chairman Geraldine Allinson before the committee earlier this week as part of a wider panel from the newspaper industry.

I love the KM, not just because of this column, but because it delivers news at its most local level. It also has excellent journalists who get great scoops that are often picked up by regional and national news.

Frustratingly, there is often little attribution to their hard work.

The BBC operates on a massive global scale, and in the hugely competitive news industry – much of which is now going online – local newspapers are finding it difficult to match its reach. This is in spite of the parity in the quality of journalism. Parliament doesn’t help with its desire to regulate and control traditional media.

This inquiry will, I hope, encourage the BBC to support its local newspaper industry rather than see it as competitors. Without the likes of KM journalists exposing the good, the bad and the ugly of local news, then the BBC would be facing more of a spending challenge than it already does.

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