The head of a new breakfast television news service has promised to bring a fresh look to screens across Scotland when it launches at first light on Monday morning, while sounding a wake-up call for its competition.
MacMillan Media, founded by former BBC correspondent, Michael MacMillan, is taking over the contract to provide local news bulletins during GMTV after beating out incumbent, SMG, earlier this year.
The revamped news, which will provide three separate inserts every day for both the Central and Northern regions, is being delivered from MacMillan’s recently kitted-out broadcast centre in the west end of Glasgow.
Seven staff – including two mobile reporters working out of Aberdeen – are using what the company describes as ‘fresh technology’ to produce the service, which, unlike its predecessor, will carry the GMTV on-air branding. The wheel is not being reinvented. The Belfast-based broadcaster already provides the bulletins in the Ulster TV region.
However, MacMillan, who has been overseeing three weeks of dry runs, is confident it will inject something new to Scotland’s airwaves.
“We have 2 minutes and 50 seconds, so it has to be short, snappy and relevant, and include the weather too. That’s a lot of boxes to tick but the look of the bulletins is slick and professional.
This is not a template which is new to us. And it’s worked successfully since we started doing the service in Northern Ireland. The strength is in the presentation. We have excellent presenters and a product which I am very happy with.”
Front of camera, depending on where you live, will be Kirsteen O’Sullivan, who has transferred from Belfast, or former BBC and talk107 journalist, Catherine Brown. “The energy of the team is key to conveying television news. That’s what gets the story first.”
Above all, the ‘new kid on the block’ believes having multi-skilling throughout will give them an edge. Each of their reporting staff is being asked to edit and shoot the news as well as finding it. Notably, it will align seamlessly with the warm and fuzzy agenda of GMTV itself,
something which, observers feel, often jarred with the outgoing incumbent.
“We are GMTV Scotland. We’re not stv. We operate a style of news set by the people who we work for in London. If you look at their news agenda at breakfast, it is very different to the BBC’s. GMTV want people stories, real-life stories.”
If the cosy world of Lorraine Kelly is MacMillan’s biggest foray yet across the Irish Sea, it won’t stop there. In Northern Ireland, the company provides online news bulletins for the Belfast Telegraph using the same crews and presenting personnel. There is, he confirms, a close
working relationship between both journalistic teams. And he is eyeing up a similar, and potentially lucrative, tie-up with one of Scotland’s newspaper groups.
“Absolutely, that’s what I want to do. I’m already talking to a number of newspapers here. Every paper wants to have a TV station. It wants to see its content reflected on video on its website.
They recognise the future lies in multi-media. And we can get them into it.”
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