Sunday 21 June 2009

Peter Preston: 'Digital Britain report shows the way newspapers could be funded'

Peter Preston in the Observer today says the Digital Britain report has shown the way to fund newspapers.
He writes: "Boil down Digital Britain's 236 pages and what have you got? Admission that the licence fee is no longer the BBC's alone; it can fund ITV regional news or local TV consortiums. Lord Carter, like Ofcom, wants competition and more voices. And one form of communication can fund another: £6 a year on the phone bill goes to spread broadband further.
"Enter logic. The biggest blight for newspapers now is the BBC's "free" (ie fee-subsidised) news website. Papers can never charge for online news while the BBC chucks in a £153m service at no charge as a natural part of broadcasting.
"So why not let broadband operators collect £6 a year for newspapers' sites? Why get stuck with old definitions of public service broadcasting when most newsgathering relies on reporters on the ground finding the stories for broadcasters to re-process? Carter sets up the argument. Now follow it through."

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