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STV in joint bid for Scottish news pilot

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STV in joint bid for Scottish news pilot
STV has partnered with ITN and Bauer Media to launch a joint bid for the government's forthcoming ITV regional news pilot in Scotland.

Alongside STV's existing TV operation as the Channel 3 licence holder in central and northern Scotland, the partnership will also include Bauer's 13 Scottish radio stations - including Radio Clyde, Northsound and Radio Forth - and the ITN news operation.

The joint bid will try to secure a portion of government funding allocated for the independently funded news consortia (IFNC) scheme. The Scottish pilot will get under way in April 2010, alongside similar trials in Wales and Tyne Tees and Border in England.

The scheme is designed to boost the beleaguered fortunes of commercial media operators but also foster a viable regional news alternative to the BBC's coverage.

Any interested parties must submit their pre-qualifying questionnaires, essentially notes of interest, to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by the end of today.

In a joint statement, STV/ITN/Bauer claimed that their proposal would reach an average of 98% of the Scottish audience every week and create "true plurality" of news provision in Scotland.

"As the current provider of television news on the Channel 3 Network in Scotland, we believe that our track record in production and innovation, our strong ratings for our news service, combined with the additional expertise from ITN and Bauer will result in a compelling and exciting proposition," said STV chief executive Rob Woodward.

"We are delighted to launch this strategic partnership with these highly regarded, complementary media organisations. Our consortium will create a wide-reaching new delivery model, helping to ensure the continuation of a well-funded, comprehensive and high quality news service on Channel 3 in Scotland."

ITN chief executive officer John Hardie said: "We're proud to be working on this unique pilot with partners who have a rich journalistic heritage in the nation. ITN's experience and technological capabilities mean that together we will offer the most comprehensive independent news service Scotland has ever enjoyed."

Bauer Radio Scotland managing director Graham Bryce added: "As Scotland's number one commercial radio operator, Bauer Media reaches around 1.7 million people on air and on line every week with must-have news, sport and entertainment.

"Harnessing our existing strength as a trusted news source and coming together with leading TV broadcasters STV and ITN to bid for the IFNC news pilot scheme will enable us all to develop an innovative, multi-platform approach to news gathering, production and broadcast in Scotland that I have no doubt will significantly benefit listeners and viewers across the country."

The joint bid will face competition for the pilot from a separate proposal from newspaper publishers Newsquest, Johnston Press and DC Thomson.

Yesterday, Trinity Mirror and MacMillan Media also revealed their intention to bid for public money to provide news coverage in the southern Scotland region.

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