Tag Archives: independently funded news consortia

Jeremy Hunt: No local TV is one of biggest gaps in British broadcasting

In his inaugural speech on the media and digital economy yesterday, new Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt tied his colours firmly to the local TV mast:

New York has six local TV stations – compared to London which has not one.

Birmingham Alabama, an example some of you may have heard me use before, has eight local TV stations – despite being a quarter the size of our Birmingham that, again, doesn’t even have one.

Paris, Lyon and Marseilles have local TV. Why not Glasgow, Sheffield and Bristol?

Unfortunately even as politicians have paid lip service to localism, our broadcasting ecology has pursued the polar opposite model – with a large proportion of news beamed shamelessly from the centre.

In his speech, Hunt said he would:

He also outlined plans for the roll out of superfast broadband in the UK. His speech is available in full at this link, but a Wordle of the top 50 words used gives an overview of his priorities for media:

Media Guardian: Regional news consortia will miss election contract deadline

Attempts to rush through plans for Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) to replace regional news provision by ITV ahead of the general election on 6 May have failed.

The winning bids for the IFNC pilots in Tyne Tees/Border region, Scotland and Wales were announced on 25 March, but contracts for the scheme will not be signed before the election date, a spokeswoman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed to the Guardian.

Those involved will now have to hope for a Labour victory on polling day as the Conservative party has said it will scrap the IFNC plans.

Full post at this link…

IFNC pilot will launch Newcastle University’s events on journalism

Newcastle University will this month hold the first in a series of seminars exploring ethnic diversity in the news industry workforce.

The seminar Widening Ethnic Diversity in the News Industry Workforce: Towards Solutions will coincide with the launch of the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) pilot schemes; an initiative in which interested parties are invited to bid to produce local content to replace the ITV regional news network.

Newspaper and broadcasting companies, independent producers and universities have formed Independently Financed News Consortia (IFNCs) to bid for around £21m to run three multi-platform pilot news services in Wales, Scotland and the Tyne Tees and Borders region.

But the news industry as a whole has a poor record of reflecting in its workforce the cultural and ethnic diversity of British society – and minority communities are entitled to expect changes if they are sharing the costs of this project.

Speakers at the event on 20 January at Newcastle University include International Federation of Journalists president Jim Boumelha and Bob Satchwell of the Society of Editors.

The two-year series of seminars, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will take place at six universities across England and Wales.

IFNC update: CN Group, STV, ITN and Bauer in race for news consortia pilots

Following news at the end of last year of new bids from partnering media groups for the independently funded news consortia pilots (IFNC) in Wales and the Tyne Tees and Borders region, Scottish broadcaster STV has confirmed its bid in partnership with ITN and Bauer Media for the scheme in Scotland.

This group’s bid will go up against a partnership of Trinity Mirror and production company Macmillan Media, which will include the support of newspapers the Dumfries and Galloway Standard, the Galloway News and the Daily Record and Sunday Mail.

ITN now has its hat in the ring for all three of the proposed pilot projects for the consortia, which will form a replacement service for ITV’s regional news network. ITN will work with Johnston Press, Newsquest, Metro Radio and the University of Sunderland on its Tyne Tees plan and ITV, Northcliffe, Newsquest and Tindle Newspapers on the Wales bid.

In competition for the north east pilot it will face a tender from UTV and a separate bid from a partnership of Trinity Mirror, the Press Association, TV production company Ten Alps and now additionally newspaper publisher CN Group. The TM/PA consortium will announced further partnerships for its bid, a press release from Trinity says.

Media Release: Tyne Tees and Borders picked for regional news consortia pilots

The Tyne Tees and Borders television region has been selected as the English pilot region for the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) proposed by the government’s Digital Britain report.

Additional trials in Scotland and Wales will also take place and the tender process for all three pilots was opened yesterday.

Full release at this link…

Several local media groups have already outlined plans for IFNC bids. ITN has proposed a ‘grand alliance’ between local media groups.

Responding to the announcement of the English pilot region yesterday, John Hardie, ITN CEO, said in a statement:

“We’re excited to be joining forces with the talented staff who provide the current service in the Tyne Tees and Border region and in Wales to create the backbone of our bids for the pilots announced today. We are building a coalition with newspapers, radio and community groups to bring together the best in commercial journalism in each of the regions to offer a compelling multi-platform news service for viewers, listeners and readers.

“IFNCs provide an opportunity to re-invigorate local and regional newsgathering across broadcast, print and online and to ensure that there is an innovative and comprehensive alternative to the BBC. We look forward to playing a key role in this bright new future for local news.”

Trinity Mirror, Press Association and TV production company Ten Alps have announced a joint bid for the IFNC pilot.

WMF: Partnerships are future for UK regional news – but who’ll be in control?

The most salient comment in yesterday’s Westminster Media Forum on the future of local media came from Community Media Association (CMA) director Jacqui Devereux.

Having listened to presentations from several of the ‘big players’ (ITN, STV, Global Radio) interested in a bid to run the government’s proposed independently funded news consortia (IFNC) as a replacement for ITV1’s regional news service, Devereux said she welcomed talk of partnership, but was concerned about the ‘jockeying for position’ she had heard in the room.

Partnerships should not be established if the main issue is who controls that partnership, she suggested.

“There’s no reason why the bigger players and the smaller players can’t work together to make this work properly. But it will only work if there isn’t a big player in there saying we need to control this ‘because’,” she said.

Smaller players, such as the community radio stations and TV channels represented by the CMA, must have a protected place within the IFNC proposals, she said – a sentiment echoed by ITN chief executive officer John Hardie, whose vision for a ‘grand alliance’ of local media included an ‘open door policy’ to encourage smaller newsmakers to take part.

While the BBC is not bidding to run the consortia, the broadcaster, whose plans for a local video network were rejected by the BBC Trust last year, is in talks with the CMA and community radio stations about ways for working together for local news provision, David Holdsworth, controller for the English regions, said.

“The BBC can be an important catalyst in what is a burgeoning sector,” he explained.

Collaboration with ‘heritage’ media could help spur growth at this level, Steve Buckley, joint managing director from Community Media Solutions, added, suggesting that support should be found for financing a professional journalist as a mentor and trainer at each community radio station in the UK.

“The time is now – not to wait for a burgeoning sector to go into decline. We cost a fraction of supporting a Channel 3 output,” said Buckley.

However, as Devereux suggested, whether these partnerships will be iterations of the old ownership model or an attempt at a new layer of cross-media, multiplayer news providers is a decision for the government and media regulator.

In tune with Devereux and Buckley’s vision for better use of community resources and independent news organisations, former Johnston Press chairman Roger Parry shared some suggestions from his recent report for the Conservative Party on local media.

Parry’s research, which looked at production costs for local news and compared regional media in the US and Canada with the UK system, suggested a network of 80 city-based, local multimedia hubs could provide the future for regional news provision in the UK.

These centres could bring in a new local video layer to the bottom of the existing news pyramid in the UK – content which could then be aggregated up to local newspapers and stations and beyond.

But to achieve this the old divisions between TV reporters and a newspaper reporter will have to be broken down. The emphasis would be on journalists as content coordinators more than content creators, he said.

WMF: Could unversities provide facilities for new local news networks?

While partnerships between news groups and across local media platforms was the focus of many presentations at yesterday’s Westminster Media Forum event, Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) secretary Jim Latham raised an interesting idea from the floor:

  • Could journalism schools at UK universities offer equipment, facilities and trainee reporters in the form of students to local media groups and proposed independently funded news consortia (IFNC)?

Latham reference the multi-million pound investment that has taken place at some institutions – including new centres at London’s City University and the University of Nottingham.

Speakers from Ofcom and ITN acknowledge the potential and admitted that this hadn’t previously been considered.

Are there legislative barriers to this happening? Or could higher education institutions play more of a role in the plans for regional news?