DCMS announces shortlist for regional news consortia bidders

LONDON - The Department of Culture, Media & Sport has shortlisted eight bids, which include Trinity Mirror, ITV and ITN among others, for the pilot schemes for the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC).

Johnston Press: shortlisted by the DCMS
Johnston Press: shortlisted by the DCMS

The Digital Economy Bill in November 2009 provided for independently funded news consortia to replace ITV's regional news provision and broadcast on the regional news slots on Channel 3.

The initial pilots in Wales, Scotland and the Tyne Tees/Border region are due to start later this year and will be funded by the excess from the digital switchover help scheme.

The consortia shortlisted for the Tyne Tees and Border region include ITN with Johnston Press, Newsquest, Metro Radio, University of Sunderland and ITV Tyne Tees and Borders news staff; Trinity Mirror with the Press Association and Ten Alps; and UTV.

In Scotland Johnston Press with the Herald and Times Group, Tinopolis, and D C Thomson have been shortlisted alongside a consortia including STV with ITN and Bauer Radio.

In Wales three consortia were shortlisted including ITN with Newsquest, Northcliffe Media, Tindle, Boomerang and ITV Wales news staff, Tinopolis; and UTV with NWN Media.

Trinity Mirror's second bid for the Scottish pilot which it launched with MacMillan Media was one of the five bids not to make it past the first phase of the selection process.

The chair of the selection panel Richard Hooper said it is looking for "quality news reporting" with a mix of local, regional and national (in the case of Wales and Scotland) audiences firmly in mind.

Hooper said the panel was looking for "genuine innovation, strong multiplatform applications and a revenue generation model that aspires to longer term sustainability".

An 'Invitation to Participate in Dialogue' will be issued formally to the eight successful bidders tomorrow, with a decision on the three winning consortia to be made by March. Pilots will begin at an undetermined date later this year.