London, Nov 13 : The BBC's plan to expand its local news coverage online could "kill off" regional newspapers, shadow Culture Secretary of Britain has warned the corporation's governing body. In a letter to Sir Michael Lyons, the chairman of the BBC Trust, Jeremy Hunt said it would be "a disaster" if the corporation's proposed new online service led to the death of local newspapers, The Telegraph reported.
Under plans being considered by the Trust, the BBC wants to spend 68 million pound on adding video footage of local stories to its network of local websites.
But owners of local newspapers have argued that the service, if approved, would draw an audience - and subsequently advertisers - away from local services offered by commercial rivals, the paper said.
"It would be a disaster, and certainly not in the public interest, if BBC action in the provision of local news killed off under pressure commercial operators in this sector," wrote Hunt.
"Such a result would mean the public relied overwhelmingly on the BBC for its local news. Given that Ofcom recently found that 86 per cent of the public value having more than one provider of news programming, and 76 per cent value having more than one provider of programming about their nation or region there is a clear appetite for competition in this area."
The Trust has the final say on whether the BBC's plans will go ahead.