Former ITN chair and chief exec appointed to head Scottish news pilot bid

A FORMER chair and chief executive of ITN has been appointed to lead a bid by three newspaper groups to run a TV news pilot for Scotland, funded from the public purse and scheduled to start broadcasting on Channel three this year.

Mark Wood has been appointed chair of the ‘Scottish News Consortium’, comprising newspaper publishers, DC Thomson, the Herald & Times Group and Johnston Press, plus television producer, Tinopolis’s Mentorn Scotland subsidiary.

SNC is hoping to beat a rival bid – from STV, Bauer Media and ITN, with STV the current provider of Scottish news on Channel 3.

Later today, the selection panel appointed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport at Westminster, to choose who is to run the publicly-funded pilot in Scotland, is hosting a public meeting, to seek people’s views on news provision on Channel three.

The Tories have intimated that, should they win the General Election, it’s unlikely the pilot – otherwise known as an Independently Funded News Consortium (IFNC) – will go ahead.

Pilots are also being scheduled for Wales and the current Tyne Tees/Borders area.

Said a consortium spokesperson: “Mark brings experience at the most senior levels in British television news and a sophisticated understanding of the multi-platform world. We welcome him to this Scottish partnership which plans to bring an unsurpassable range and depth of news and debate to the people of Scotland.”

Added Wood: “The consortium will transform the way television and broadband news is covered in Scotland and create a new model for partnership between newspapers and broadcasters.”

DC Thomson includes The Press and Journal and The Sunday Post newspapers in its portfolio, while Johnston Press has The Scotsman, plus numerous local newspapers within its stable. The Herald & Times Group includes The Herald and Sunday Herald newspapers

Continues Wood: “Nowhere else in the UK can a news service tap into such an incredible network of journalists as the three media groups offer in Scotland. Add to that the television expertise of Mentorn and our ground-breaking plans for a truly multi-platform and interactive TV/web news service and this is a dramatically new way of engaging Scottish viewers with national regional and community news.”

The pilots are being created because commercial television companies say that, with falling advertising revenue, they can no longer afford to cover this kind of news. Bidding closes the second of next month, with the winner due to be announced three weeks later, on the 25th.

ITN produces ITV News and Channel 4 News.

Before ITN, Wood was editor-in-chief of international news agency, Reuters. He is also on the board of Future plc, the global magazine publishing group.

Wood started his career as a foreign correspondent, and was based in Moscow, Berlin, Bonn and Vienna.