CN Group joins Trinity and PA's northern consortia bid

Regional publisher CN Group has joined the consortium aiming to run an Independently Funded News Consortium pilot for the Tyne Tees and Border areas of England.

The independently-run CN Group, which publishes newspapers in Cumbria, Northumberland and Scotland, joins a partnership established by Trinity Mirror, the Press Association and internet TV specialists Ten Alps.

The consortium has already tabled a bid for funding from the government to run a pilot scheme replacing ITV's news operation in that region of England – other organisations are expected to be added as partners in the coming weeks.

Robin Burgess, chief executive of CN Group, said: "We have been serving the people of Cumbria with local news, information and entertainment for over 194 years and we look forward to continuing this by contributing to a revitalised local news programme.

"Having been directly involved with Border Television from its foundation until it was sold to Granada we hope that our unique position will help ensure the consortium is chosen to serve the area for this pilot."

Neil Benson, Trinity Mirror Regionals editorial director and spokesman for the consortium, welcomed CN Group's inclusion.

He said: "Their unrivalled knowledge and coverage of Cumbria will be crucially important in ensuring that we provide an outstanding local service for that part of the region.

"CN Group adds considerable weight to our proposition and we are absolutely convinced we have the ideal blueprint for the English TV news pilot."

The Carlisle-based CN Group publishes daily and weekly newspapers including the Whitehaven News, Carlisle News & Star and the Cumberland News.

The publisher, which was also a founding shareholder in Border Television, has now become a partner in a consortium bidding for the right to run a hotly-contested local pilot project.

A bid has also been tabled by rival newspaper publishers Johnston Press and Newsquest, which have joined forces with ITN, Metro Radio and the University of Sunderland as they aim to run the local TV news in the region.

The government announced late last year that it will award funding to three pilot schemes in Scotland, Wales and the Scottish Borders region of England to replace broadcast news services currently provided by ITV.

The schemes are to be funded from the section of BBC licence fee currently allocated towards digital TV switchover.

If the schemes are successful they may be rolled out across the UK.

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