BBC's dominant position on the Internet is destroying local newspapers and threatens national publications, says UK's home secretary
November 12, 2013
– THE BBC's dominant position on the internet is destroying local newspapers and threatens national publications, the Home Secretary has warned.
Addressing the Society of Editors' annual conference in London, Theresa May attacked the broadcaster's ability to subsidise its online coverage with the licence fee.
Mrs May said the "might of the BBC" could ultimately impact on "local democracy".
She said local newspapers are having "a particularly hard time", adding: "That's partly been the result of the BBC's dominant position on the internet and its ability to subsidise the provision of internet news using the licence fee.
"This makes it enormously difficult for local newspapers to compete. If the BBC can, as they do, provide all the locally significant news, what is left to motivate the local media to buy a paper? It's destroying local newspapers and could eventually happen to national newspapers."
Mrs May said she held discussions with her local newspaper the Maidenhead Advertiser about the impact of the BBC locally and the importance of having an "alternative local news source".
"This is as dangerous for local politics as it is for local journalism.
"Because as a local MP I value the ability to raise issues in my constituency in my local newspaper but also I value its role in disseminating information about what I and local councillors are doing in the area."
Mrs May said she believed "a plurality of news sources is essential to our democracy".
She warned if newspapers are forced to close down, the country could be left with a single source of information.
The Home Secretary said: "Competition in the provision of news is essential to democracy and diminishing competition is dangerous to the health of democratic politics.
"That's why it's important that the internet does not have the effect of making a plurality of newspapers commercially impossible in Britain."
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps has already accused the corporation of biased reporting and questioned its funding.