Tag Archives: Roger Parry

BBC Radio 4 Today: Pay walls discussed with @ruskin147 and @emilybell

This morning’s Today Programme discusses pay walls with BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones; Emily Bell, director of digital content at the Guardian; and Roger Parry, former chair of Johnston Press.

Johnston Press is – from this morning – to start charging for web access to some of its regional newspapers.

Cellan-Jones says it will be a ‘real test of the appetite of readers to actually pay for what’s online’.

Emily Bell makes the distinction between ‘paid content’ and ‘pay walls’; while she is sceptical about the future success of pay walls, people might be willing to pay for an iPhone app, for example, she says.

Full post at this link…

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.

UK Newspaper alliance calls for merger process to be modernised

Seven of the UK’s largest media publishers have produced a report urging the Office of Fair Trading to improve the process for newspaper mergers.

The publishers, known as the Local Media Alliance (LMA), submitted the 108-page report, titled ‘The Case for Modernising the Approach to Local Media Mergers’, on March 31.

The LMA believes the system needs updating to reflect the changes in today’s local media markets and to ensure there is a long-term future for local newspapers.

The report details what the group want changed in the merger process, including more flexibility with newspaper mergers, so the industry can move into the multimedia sector more easily.

Roger Parry, chairman of the LMA explained the importance of the mergers process in the introduction of the report.

“This consolidation will support local efficiency and effectiveness to the benefit not only of the larger publishing organisations but also smaller publishers who will be able to grow their businesses through title acquisition or exchange that has previously been prevented.”

The LMA said changing the process would not deny local advertisers the choice of where they allocate their media expenditure, nor prevent readers from being able to access local news from local journalists. Local titles could be protected by creating merged organisations with a clear focus on local media, it said.

According to the report, there are 40 million readers a week for print across 1,300 newspaper titles, while 24 million users access 1,200 local newspaper websites, which shows that the local newspaper industry remains a large and diverse, with 87 publishing groups.

“It is the firm belief of the LMA members that print publications will continue to play a pivotal role in the local multimedia business of the future,” added Parry.

Johnston Press Release: Board changes at Johnston Press

Ian Russell to succeed chairman Roger Parry from March 2009.

Simon Waugh to leave board from January 30 following appointment as chief executive of the new National Apprenticeship Service.

Full release at this link…