THE UK’s News Media Association (NMA) has sent an email encouraging members to call on the BBC to “be a better neighbour” and abandon their controversial local news plans.

The local news industry fears the broadcaster could “seriously damage the local journalism ecosystem” by forcing independent local news reporters to compete with one of the largest news providers.

An email was sent on Wednesday, June 28 to all NMA council local members, and the Legal, Policy and Regulatory Affairs department, as well as local editors, local communications and public affairs contacts with the subject line: “Local news industry calls on BBC to Be A Better Neighbour’.

In advance of publication of the BBC Charter mid-term review, NMA member editors have been encouraged to participate in the Be A Better Neighbour awareness-raising campaign which launches on Monday.

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The campaign is calling on MPs to assist as “guardrails enshrined in a Royal Charter, which are supposed to prevent the BBC misusing its power in this way, have completely failed”.

The email provides a template letter for local editors to personalise and send to their local MPs.

In 2021, the BBC announced that over the, at the time, next six years, the broadcaster would shift its creative and journalistic centre away from London.

Proposals set out in the BBC’s blueprint for the future entitled The BBC Across the UK, set out to “serve all parts of the country” and forecasted that by 2027/28 the BBC would be spending an extra £700m cumulatively across the UK - generating an additional economic benefit of over £850 million.

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The local news campaign template for editors to personalise states: “As your local news title, we believe firmly in the importance of trusted local journalism to communities up and down the UK.

“We invest in trained journalists who seek to challenge authority and hold power to account on your behalf, bringing you the news that matters when, where and how you want it.

“Our audiences are huge – 40 million people (73 per cent of GB population aged 15+) now read local news media in print or digital every month.

“Trust in our journalism is rising too. A recent survey found 81 per cent of Brits agree that they trust the news and information they see in their local news media – a rise of seven per cent on 2018.

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“It’s no secret that the business model for local journalism is facing some challenges, but we remain fully committed to finding a truly sustainable future for our sector.

“And we’ll get there. We just need a bit of space and time to do it.”

The email further touches on the public outcry surrounding the Across the UK BBC plans, freedom of speech, the BBC’s “unique power” - granted to the corporation by the licence fee, fair competition, and pressure on journalistic resources.

It concludes: “With your help we can get the BBC to be a better neighbour to local commercial titles, ensuring a vibrant and diverse local news sector for many years to come.”