Third major bid for Scottish news consortium pilot

Three of Scotland’s biggest newspaper publishers have teamed up with Question Time producer Tinopolis to bid for the Scottish Independently Funded News Consortium pilot project.

DC Thomson, Herald & Times Group, Johnston Press and Tinopolis have formed the third group to table a bid for funding from the government’s pilot independently funded news consortiums scheme to replace ITV’s regional news operation.

Scottish broadcaster STV announced last month that it would partner with ITN and Bauer Media, owner of radio networks including Kiss and Magic, to bid to run the regional news pilot in Scotland as the “Scottish News Network”.

Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Record, and production company MacMillan Media have also announced a partnership to bid for the same pilot.

The latest bid sees three of Scotland’s biggest newspaper publishers championing their “unrivalled newsgathering capability in Scotland with some 1,000 editorial staff in news bureaux across the nation.”

Newspapers published by companies in the group include dailies The Courier, The Scotsman, The Herald, The Press and Journal, and weekly titles such as the Stornoway Gazette, Southern Reporter, Aberdeen Citizen, Sunday Post, Sunday Herald and Scotland on Sunday.

The group said in a joint statement: “The consortium will propose fresh and creative solutions for Scottish and local news on television, the internet and other digital platforms to meet consumer needs.”

Herald & Times Group managing director Tim Blott said: “This unprecedented alliance between three major Scottish media groups and an outstanding broadcast partner promises the people of Scotland an unrivalled depth and range of television and web news about our country.”

Tinopolis chairman Ron Jones said: “The Scottish News Consortium consists of the three strongest newspaper groups in Scotland, and the most distinguished producer of network television journalism. Together, we are confident we can provide Scotland with the news services it needs and deserves.”

Mark Wood, a former chairman and chief executive of ITN who is advising the group, said: “This consortium represents an unprecedented partnership between historically competing news organisations, and promises to deliver a breadth and vibrancy in national and local coverage no-one can match.

“This will transform and invigorate the whole nature of Scottish television news while the parallel use of web platforms will engage and involve viewers in a way which has never been ventured on this scale.

“This will be an excellent model for the rest of the UK – and for many other countries and regions beyond it.”

The bid by the three newspaper groups follows Tom Thomson, managing editor of the Glasgow-based Herald & Times Group, telling delegates at the RTS conference in September that they were likely to launch a bid but were looking for a video partner.

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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