UTV to consider bidding for news contracts across Britain

Nothern Ireland’s UTV is eyeing up potential grants to provide regional news services across Britain. The UK broadcasting authorities are considering channelling part of the licence fee into the Independently Funded News Consortium that would provide multimedia news to the regions.

Bob Geldof’s Ten Alps and the Belfast Telegraph have campaigned for the scheme to include Northern Ireland - a development that would result in UTV surrendering its news slots to the grant’s winner. However, UTV boss John McCann said yesterday his group would not only challenge for the Northern Ireland contract should it materialise, but it would also look at other territories.

“We do news exceptionally well, if there was an opportunity in other regions we’d certainly look at that,” he said. “It wouldn’t be branded UTV but it would be run by UTV providing a Yorkshire service, a Scottish service, a service wherever.”

Mr McCann also confirmed UTV Ireland has taken four of the 20 staff made redundant by the collapse of regional radio news service INN. UTV is now running its own news services for its stations, plus Galway Bay FM, and hopes to win contracts for more local services when the contract is tendered in five months time.