Johnston and Newsquest join forces for English TV consortium bid

Johnston Press and Newsquest have joined forces with ITN, Metro Radio and the University of Sunderland to form a consortium to provide broadcast news in Border and Tyne Tees.

The group is together seeking to win the public funding which is had been made available for one of three broadcasting pilot projects to replace ITV news in Wales, Scotland and this English region. If the pilots are successful, Independently Funded News Consortia could be rolled out across the UK.

Newspaper titles published by Newsquest and Johnston Press in the region include The Northern Echo, Sunderland Echo, Hartlepool Mail, Shields Gazette, Northumberland Gazette, Morpeth Herald, Durham Advertiser, Chester-le-Street Advertiser and Darlington & Stockton Times.

Staff involved in the current ITV service in the regional will also be involved in the bid. And broadcaster Melvyn Bragg is acting as a special adviser to the consortium.

ITN chief executive John Hardie said: “We’re excited to bring together this compelling consortium which combines the very best of commercial journalism in the region, spanning television, print, online and radio.

“This unprecedented alliance will act as a catalyst to revolutionise local news, delivering a ground-breaking new service for viewers. Using the considerable skills and capabilities of our partners combined with ITN’s proven journalistic and creative pedigree, we will offer an unparalleled strength in regional and local news coverage available across all platforms.”

Current ITV head of news in the area Lucy West represents the existing ITV staff who are involved in the consortium.

She said: “We will aim to build on our strengths and deliver a first class news service to viewers across the North East, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders. We are looking forward to developing new, exciting and ambitious ideas with our partners to provide the best local news service to audiences across all platforms in the Tyne Tees and Border region.”

Johnston Press chief executive John Fry said: “Johnston Press boasts an army of journalists on the ground, embedded at a grass-roots level and very much part of their communities. We look forward to playing a central role in this new era for local news to best serve readers, surfers and viewers in the area.”

Trinity Mirror, which publishes the two daily newspapers in Newcastle, has already signalled that it intends to bid for the English pilot scheme with Press Association and production company Ten Alps. Northern Ireland TV company UTV has also thrown its hat into the ring.

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