The BBC should help fund Britain’s emerging hyperlocal journalism sector in the same way it supported the rollout of local TV, according to a report from Cardiff University and innovation charity Nesta.
The report, which concludes that an “urgent intervention” is needed to keep hyperlocal journalism financially sustainable, says that the BBC should be playing a much greater role and outlines a range of recommendations.
The report says that the BBC could more actively link to hyperlocal content – a thorny issue also raised by local and regional newspapers – and purchase material from the UK’s 400-plus hyperlocal and community sites.
The model would operate in a similar way to the relationship the BBC has with local TV companies with a deal to buy up to £5m of content a year from 2013 to March 2017.
“The opportunity to sell credited content to bbc.co.uk would potentially be a huge boon using a principle for buying local content which has already been established,” states the report.
The BBC could also open its archive for hyperlocal publishers to exploit.
“The core issues that challenge the prosperity of UK hyperlocal media remain unchanged,” says digital analyst Damian Radcliffe, who unveiled the report at an event discussing the future of hyperlocal media on Wednesday.
“The sector has no degree of long-term certainty. For too many community publishers their existence remains hand-to-mouth, which has an inevitable impact on both the sustainability and the appeal of the sector to new entrants.