Third bid lodged for Scotland news pilot

By Andrew Laughlin, Technology Reporter

Three of Scotland's largest newspaper publishers have teamed up with Question Time producer Tinopolis to bid for the forthcoming regional news pilot in Scotland.

DC Thomson, Herald & Times Group and Johnston Press - who collectively publish The Herald, The Scotsman and The Press and Journal newspapers - have submitted the third official proposal for the Scottish trial of the government's independently-funded news consortia scheme.

First unveiled in the Digital Britain report, the IFNC project is designed to boost the beleaguered fortunes of commercial media operators and also foster a viable regional news alternative to the BBC's coverage.
Broadcaster STV has partnered with ITN and Bauer Media to launch a separate proposal for the Scottish trial, while Trinity Mirror and MacMillan Media also hope to secure a portion of the estimated 7m annual funding for the scheme.

Last September, Herald & Times Group managing editor Tom Thomson revealed at an RTS conference that the three publishers intended to lodge a joint bid for the Scotland pilot should they be able to secure a suitable broadcast partner.
In a statement, the new alliance trumpeted its "unrivalled newsgathering capability in Scotland with some 1,000 editorial staff in news bureaux across the nation".

With the addition of Tinopolis' broadcasting experience, the consortia claims that it will "propose fresh and creative solutions for Scottish and local news on television, the internet and other digital platforms to meet consumer needs".

Herald & Times Group managing director Tim Blott said: "This unprecedented alliance between three major Scottish media groups and an outstanding broadcast partner promises the people of Scotland an unrivalled depth and range of television and web news about our country."
Tinopolis chairman Ron Jones added: "The Scottish news consortium consists of the three strongest newspaper groups in Scotland, and the most distinguished producer of network television journalism. Together, we are confident we can provide Scotland with the news services it needs and deserves."

Mark Wood, a former ITN chief executive who is advising the group, said that the unprecedented partnership would "deliver a breadth and vibrancy in national and local coverage no-one can match".

He explained: "This will transform and invigorate the whole nature of Scottish television news while the parallel use of web platforms will engage and involve viewers in a way which has never been ventured on this scale. This will be an excellent model for the rest of the UK - and for many other countries and regions beyond it."

In the spring, culture secretary Ben Bradshaw will announce successful bidders for the Scottish pilot, along with similar trials in England and Wales. All three pilots will then run until 2013, when the scheme could roll out nationwide.