BBC agrees regional news partnership with STV

The BBC has signed a partnership agreement to share some of its regional news resources with Scottish broadcaster STV.

The memorandum of understanding, anounced last night, could see both broadcasters share non-exclusive pictures, facilities, training, technology and archive programming.

It comes hours before the government is due to unveil its final blueprint for Digital Britain, including recommendations on how to sustain regional news.

The BBC/STV deal will enable either broadcaster to use the other’s raw picture footage and outside broadcast units – and potentially share premises.

“A final agreement in this area would have to ensure that the editorial integrity of both broadcasters would be preserved in any picture sharing arrangement,” the BBC and STV said in a joint statement last night.

“Exclusive stories and features will not be shared, and plurality or distinctiveness of news provision will not be compromised by any such agreement.”

STV journalists will have access to the BBC College of Journalism, which is about to make its training resources available online to the wider public.

The two broadcasters also said they hoped to work together to support students through work placements and shadowing.

Yesterday’s agreement is non-binding and both parties have set a number of conditions before the deal is finally approved.

STV chief executive Rob Woodward said: “We are building a strong relationship with the BBC and are delighted to have agreed such a wide-reaching partnership deal that is there to better serve our viewers.

“We remain absolutely committed to maintaining our position as Scotland’s commercial Public Service Broadcaster, providing plurality of services for viewers.

“We believe that this partnership will be to the benefit of both our audiences and the creative industry in Scotland.”

The BBC announced last December that it wanted to forge partnerships with other regional news providers, including newspapers.

Sharing some of its resources was seen as an alternative to so-called “top-slicing” – diverting licence fee cash away from the corporation towards other broadcasters.

The BBC and ITV reached a provisional news partnership agreement in March, but it has been reported that there have been disagreements about how the system would work in practice.

BBC director general Mark Thompson said in the joint statement with STV: “These discussions point the way to the future role of the BBC in the wider public service broadcasting sector, both in Scotland and across the UK.

“While both broadcasters will maintain their distinctive approaches to the delivery of news and other programme content, it makes sense for both to explore potential synergies and to consider what, sensibly, could be achieved by working more closely together.”

PressGazette.co.uk will have full coverage of – and reaction to – the Digital Britain report from 3.30pm this afternoon.

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