TWO news consortia have been successful in passing stage one of a bidding process to run a publicly-funded TV news service in Scotland, on Channel three – starting later this year, initially as a pilot.
In a statement issued today by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, at Westminster, eight consortia have been selected to begin detailed dialogue on running three pilots, with Scotland joined by Wales and Tyne Tees/Borders as test-beds for publicly-funded regional news in competition to that provided by the BBC.
The two consortia bidding to run the Scottish pilot are STV/Bauer Media/ITN and Herald & Times Group/Johnston Press/DC Thomson/Tinopolis.
There is no mention of a hoped-for news service solely for the south of Scotland, which Trinity Mirror and Glasgow-based Macmillan Media – which provides Scottish news opt-outs on TV morning programme, GMTV – announced it would like to run despite there being no pilot identified solely for that part of the country.
The pilots are being set up in recognition of the fact that the current providers of regional news on Channel 3 – for instance, STV in central and north Scotland – are finding it increasingly unviable, financially, as advertising revenue is lured away, including to the internet and to new TV channels. But because public cash is involved, STV is being required to bid for it, in competition with other prospective so-called Independently-Financed News Consortia (IFNC).
In Wales, three consortia are in the running: ITN/Newsquest/Northcliffe Media/Tindle/ Boomerang/ ITV Wales news staff, Tinopolis and UTV/NWN Media Ltd.
There are three hopefuls too bidding for the Tyne Tees/Borders pilot: ITN/Johnston Press/Newsquest/Metro Radio/University of Sunderland/ITV Tyne Tees and Borders news staff, Trinity Mirror/Press Association/Ten Alps and UTV.