PA offers to help regional papers make television news

The Press Association has begun a pilot scheme to help newspapers fill the gap in regional TV news that has been created by ITV.

The news agency announced today that it was working with the Guardian Media Group and other partners on a regional TV news trial in the north of England.

PA said it was also in talks with other potential partners around the UK about providing video news footage for news bulletins.

Last month, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards gave his backing to the idea of independent, competitively funded local news consortia which would bid to provide TV news in each of the ITV regions.

The proposal has been supported by ITV executive chairman Michael Grade, who has offered to open up parts of ITV1’s peak-time schedule to the news consortia.

ITV announced a reorganisation of its regional news programming last year, with 17 regions merged into nine and hundreds of job cuts.

Ofcom estimates that the cost of funding the local TV news consortia will be in the region of £40m and £100m a year.

PA launched its new video wire service last month. It currently provides raw footage for up to 30 stories a day across news, sport and entertainment, which can then be used by broadcasters and online newspapers.

Both MEN Media, part of the Guardian Media Group, and Trinity Mirror announced today that they had signed up to a free six-month trial of the PA video newswire.

Press Association managing director Tony Watson said: “The new video service can play an important role in helping our regional newspaper customers with their transition into cross-platform media businesses, especially at a time when they are facing unprecedented commercial pressures.

“We also believe the video wire will be an increasingly attractive proposition for broadcasters seeking low-cost, high quality coverage of diary and non-exclusive assignments.”

Last November, the BBC Trust blocked a controversial proposal by the BBC to start providing video news clips on its network of 65 local news websites.

The Trust said it hoped blocking the move would give the regional press the freedom to develop its own online video services.

Newspaper Society director David Newell said: “The Press Association video news wire service will assist regional newspapers across the UK in continuing to strengthen and develop their digital proposition.

“Making video reports is now commonplace for many journalists and this service will be a welcome additional resource.”

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