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Panorama producer joins publishers in TV news bid

A leading TV current affairs production company has teamed up with three newspaper publishers bidding for the right to broadcast Scottish regional news.

As reported by HTFP in September, Newsquest, Johnston Press and DC Thomson have joined forces with existing provider STV in a bid to run Scotland’s channel 3 regional news service.

They have now been joined by Tinopolis, whose Mentorn Media subsidiary produces Question Time, Panorama and Traffic Cops for the BBC and Cutting Edge and Dispatches for Channel 4.

The consortium has also secured the services of Mark Wood, formerly chairman and chief executive of ITN, who has been named as a consultant to the bid.

The alliance publishes a wide range of Scottish titles including dailies such as The Courier, The Scotsman, The Herald and The Press and Journal and weeklies such as the Stornoway Gazette, Southern Reporter and Aberdeen Citizen.

It claims an “unrivalled” newsgathering capability in Scotland with a total of 1,000 editorial staff in newsrooms across the country.

The consortium is up against a rival bid from Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Record and Paisley Daily Express, which has teamed up with independent production company Macmillan Media.

Licences to run regional TV news services in Scotland, Wales and North-East England will be handed out in March.

Tinopolis chairman Ron Jones said: “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.”

David Thomson, joint managing director for newspapers at DC Thomson, said: “We are delighted to be working with such a strong consortium. Local news provision is vital to our community.

“We believe that, along with our consortium partners, we are well placed to build on the quality and quantity of news that we already provide, by adding innovative multiplatform news to the service we offer our readers.”

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.”

Johnston Press chief executive John Fry said: “This news consortium has tremendous strength in depth in communities throughout Scotland and I am confident that it can provide consumers with a significantly different and enhanced service.”

Mr Wood said: “This consortium represents an unprecedented partnership between historically competing news organisations, and promises to deliver a breadth and vibrancy in national and local coverage no-one can match.

“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.”

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