We won the regional TV news bid for Scotland!

Ok, first a quick bit of background: The Government are funding a pilot scheme for independent TV news production in Scotland, the North East of England and Wales. In Scotland, this would replace the regional news currently broadcast by STV. If you’re interested, The Guardian has a good history of the whole process.

Only two proposals made it through to the final selection process in Scotland. One bid was from a consortium including STV and the other was our bid, the Scottish News Consortium, which includes the Herald & Times Group (where I work), Johnston Press, DC Thomson and Tinopolis.

The winning bidder was announced by the DCMS today… and it’s us!!!

I’m really, really pleased. Obviously it’s great for the consortium partners, but I’m also really chuffed on a personal level as I was heavily involved in our bid. Our proposal had a big online aspect to it which I put a lot of work into and it’s great to see that being recognised by the selection panel. They picked out the following ‘key features’ of our bid:

“SNC set out an imaginative and innovative cross-platform approach to news provision adding the reporting resources of its partner newspapers and a new website to a strong TV proposition. The proposals represented a clear sense of public value associated with a credible news alternative to the BBC in Scotland. The planned website would act as a portal to 130 local newspaper partner websites.”

The selection panel chairman, Richard Hooper added: “We asked for innovation and were not disappointed.”

Writing on his blog, Brian McNair, Professor of Journalism & Communication at the University of Strathclyde wrote: “This decision can be seen as the UK Government’s gesture of support, not just for the struggling Scottish press, but for those media managers prepared to think ‘out of the box’.”

The whole thing is still subject to the signing of various contracts and could still be halted by the Conservatives, who oppose the idea of state funding for news on Channel 3.

Assuming it all goes ahead, then the real work starts. The web site we’re planning is, as far as we know, the first of its kind in the world. Unfortunately, I can’t say too much about it yet, but our model has the potential to really shake up how people consume local online news. Very exciting.

For now, we’ve got a simple holding page online at www.scotlandfirst.co.uk where you can read more about our plans.

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