Friday, 26 March 2010

From Riches to Rags

It was once described as “a licence to print money.” Now ITV/STV can’t even make a regional news programme because it’s too expensive.

The Scottish News Consortium which is made up of DC Thomson, the Herald and Times Group, Johnston Press and Tinopolis (part owned by private equity company Vitruvian Partners), has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the Independently Funded News Consortia (IFNC) to produce regional news for STV – Shite Television for those who’ve never seen it.
SNC’s newspaper titles include Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman, The Herald, Sunday Herald, The Evening Times, The Sunday Post, The Beano and The Dandy

Along with television SNC are being tasked with delivering local news content across the web, mobile, and other new platforms.  

The independent (sic) selection panel led by Richard Hooper seems to have got all excited about how television, local newspapers, the internet and local radio could work together in new and interesting ways. Those new and interesting ways may well be the delivery of all your news from newspaper groups with a common political agenda who have seen the sales of their rags plummet over the last few years. Not because of the internet. Rather because, they are tired and poor imitations of what good journalism is.
In the case of The Sunday Post - name one hard scoop it has ever broke (‘Oor Wullie Gets a New Bucket’ aside.)

Mr Hooper is also taken by the “strong proposals for regional, local and hyperlocal/community news.” We can now expect the ‘Central Belt’ to be renamed ‘Hyperlocal’ any day now.

The fear is that these pilots, once started, won’t be easily reversed, as they test new ways of providing news, and pump in an initial subsidy from the BBC licence fee, worth £40m over two years.
I doubt that they can ever graduate from public subsidy to become self-financing and there’s little doubt that SNC hope that the subsidy will be continued after two years.

Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, (a guy with a Degree in German, who use to be a reporter and a less than successful Minister for Health,) is sure that it is a good idea.
Listen if this was a good idea they would role it out in London and the Home Counties.  

The Conservatives are opposed in principle to using public money to subsidise the regional news on Channel 3 and have said they will examine whether the scheme can be scrapped if they win the forthcoming General Election. It’s not a reason to vote for them but, if enough of the rest of you do . . .

Here’s the thing – I don’t want any of my licence money going to fund any sort of programme on the piss-poor commercial STV. I’ve seen the news on STV. Fuck knows where they spend the money! They have an obligation to provide regional news; if they can’t honour that obligation then they should fuck off and let others run the company.
End of story.

Well, probably not . . .