Local online plans ditched by BBC

Network of sites would be anti-competitive

LONDON -- On what turned out to be a day of bad news for the pubcaster, the BBC on Friday was forced to dump its controversial 68 million pounds ($100 million) plan to build a network of local news and video sites after regulators and the BBC Trust both said the project was anti-competitive.

The news came as BBC Trust chairman Michael Lyons said that the BBC executive board, including director general Mark Thompson, had agreed to waive their bonuses amid a tightening financial environment.

"All those who have an entitlement to a bonus in 2009 have agreed to waive them," he said.

In recent years, the BBC has scaled back the bonus element of BBC bosses' salaries following criticism from viewers and commentators.

Earlier in the day, media regulator Ofcom had said that the BBC's proposed local video news service would have a "significant negative impact on commercial players" including local newspapers, radio stations and commercial Web sites.

Following Ofcom's review, the BBC Trust refused to back the plan, instead challenging BBC management to improve its existing local services.

In a statement, BBC management said it accepted that the broadband local news service "would not be appropriate in the foreseeable future."