Talks could mean news events join

Rival broadcast industry conferences News World International and News Xchange are in talks about a possible merger next year.

The move comes one year after a number of News World staff broke away to form News Xchange with backing from the European Broadcasting Union.

The attempted rapprochement between the two organisations was hailed by News World owner Banff Media Enterprises as well as delegates at its conference in Dublin as a move that made sense.

Patrick Stoddart, News World’s editorial director, confirmed that the rival events had been in contact to discuss the prospect of coming together again.

News World made a direct approach to News Xchange underwriter EBU for discussions about a merger.

Overspending by broadcasters covering the war in Iraq is understood to have put many delegates under pressure to attend only one of the two events. But a merger of the conferences would mark a triumph for the original event, News World, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year.

“It makes no sense to split the two conferences. And to be honest with you, I never understood why we split in the first place,” Stoddart told Press Gazette in Dublin last week.

“Our differences need to be resolved for the good of the industry,” he said.

Tony Naets, head of news at the EBU, confirmed News World’s approach, adding: “We’ve agreed that nobody’s interests are served by having two meetings of this kind addressing the same audience and that each entity has shown over the past what it is good at and that it would be good to bring that joint knowledge together in a meeting next year.”

Naets said the association between the conferences would not be a merger.

“I don’t think it’s a merger. I think we both want to speak for our community. But we certainly can organise something together.”

Jim Gold, of Gold Media Services, launched News Xchange after leaving News World in 2001. The breakaway conference had its debut in Ljubljana, Slovenia, last October and its second outing is in Budapest on 6 and 7 November.

Matters came to a head this year when News World brought forward the date of this year’s event to October, in order to beat News Xchange to the punch.

By Wale Azeez

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