AddThis SmartLayers

Seventy councils to be covered by new publishers as LDR contracts change hands

LDRS logoChanges to the local democracy reporter contracts announced last week will mean 70 local authorities will be covered by a different local news publisher from July.

As reported by HTFP last week, the BBC has revealed the successful bidders after the contracts were retendered following the expansion of the scheme from 150 journalists to 165.

HTFP has now analysed the list of new contract holders published by the BBC last week, compared to the original list announced in December 2017, showing the extent to which contracts have switched between different companies.

A number of independent titles have won contracts at the expense of bigger publishers following the move, although many changes involve switches between the ‘big three’ of JPIMedia, Newsquest and Reach plc. A full list of the changes can be found below.

The BBC decided earlier this year to offer an increased number of contracts featuring fewer councils in each tender, while some of the changes have been brought about as a result of the BBC ‘bundling’ some local authorities with different neighbouring councils.

Among the smaller companies to benefit are two broadcasters – Notts TV, which won the right to cover Nottinghamshire County and Nottingham City councils from Reach plc, while Radio Exe was awarded the contract for Devon County, Plymouth and Torbay councils at the expense of the same publisher.

However in a reversal of the trend, Reach gained the right to cover North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire councils from hyperlocal publisher Stonebow Media after the contracts for Lincolnshire were divided into two – although Stonebow retained its contract to cover the rest of Lincolnshire and thus kept its two existing reporters employed under the scheme.

Reach also gained the contract for covering Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking & Dagenham councils from the London Evening Standard.

Newsquest lost the contracts to cover six London councils to Social Spider CIC, as well as Caerphilly County and Newport City councils to Caerphilly Observer publisher Caerphilly Media Ltd, while JPIMedia lost its contract to cover Brighton and Hove City Council to independent outlet Brighton and Hove News.

Other notable switches include Iliffe Media winning the contract to cover Suffolk County Council from Archant.

And Newbury News and Media Ltd won its first LDR contract, taking over coverage of West Berkshire Council from Newsquest.

The BBC has moved to reassure those affected by the contract changes after concerns were raised by local democracy reporters including Joseph Anderson, who is currently employed by JPIMedia in Edinburgh, where Reach has won the new contract.

Joseph posted on Twitter after the changes were announced: “I know a lot of my fellow LDRs are a little worried about what to do with the contracts changing hands.”

In response, a BBC spokesman told HTFP: “Local Democracy Reporters (LDRs) are employed directly by suppliers not the BBC.

“The responsibility for the transfer of any reporter to a new supplier because of a contract change is a matter for the suppliers. We will, however, do all we can to make sure this change is as smooth as possible for reporters involved.

“A contract change is not a reflection of the previous work of a reporter but an assessment of the evidence put forward by a bidding company.

“In a very small number of cases, where like-for-like reporting roles may not be available, suppliers are seeking alternative options.”

Authority/Authorities covered Previous contract holder New contract holder
Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council Reach plc JPIMedia
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Thurrock Council Reach plc Newsquest
Suffolk County Council Archant Iliffe Media
Rutland County Council Reach plc JPIMedia
Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottingham City Council Reach plc Notts TV
Durham County Council JPIMedia Newsquest
Hartlepool Borough Council Reach plc JPIMedia
Cumbria County Council JPIMedia Newsquest
St Helens Council Reach plc Newsquest
Halton Borough Council Reach plc Newsquest
West Berkshire Council Newsquest Newbury News & Media Ltd
Oxfordshire County Council Newsquest JPIMedia
Southampton City Council, Hampshire County Council Newsquest JPIMedia
Portsmouth City Council Newsquest JPIMedia
Brighton and Hove City Council JPIMedia Brighton and Hove News
Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council Reach plc Radio Exe
Leeds City Council, Calderdale Council, City of Bradford Met District Council JPIMedia Newsquest
North Yorkshire County Council Newsquest JPIMedia
City of York Council Newsquest JPIMedia
North East Lincolnshire Council, North Lincolnshire Council Stonebow Media Reach plc
Harrow Council, Brent Council Newsquest Reach plc
Barnet Council, Enfield Council, Haringey Council Newsquest Social Spider CIC
Waltham Forest Council, Redbridge Council, Havering Council Newsquest Social Spider CIC
Tower Hamlets Council, Newham Council, Barking & Dagenham Council London Evening Standard Reach plc
Lambeth Council, Southwark Council, Lewisham Council Newsquest Reach plc
Greenwich Council, Bexley Council, Bromley Council Newsquest Reach plc
Greater London Authority Newsquest London Evening Standard
Angus Council, Dundee City Council JPIMedia DC Thomson
Stirling Council, Perth and Kinross Council JPIMedia Reach plc
Renfrewshire Council, Inverclyde Council Newsquest Reach plc
North Lanarkshire Council, East Dunbartonshire Council Newsquest JPIMedia
East Renfrewshire Council, Glasgow City Council, West Dunbartonshire Council Newsquest Reach plc
The City of Edinburgh Council, Midlothian Council, East Lothian Council JPIMedia Reach plc
Falkirk Council, West Lothian Council JPIMedia Reach plc
Wrexham County Borough Council, Flintshire County Council Reach plc Newsquest
Pembrokeshire County Council, Ceredigion County Council Reach plc Newsquest
Caerphilly County Borough Council, Newport City Council Newsquest Caerphilly Media Ltd