Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Won't Forget to Save It This Time

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Won't Forget to Save It This Time

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM GUTTERIDGE

ISPENT Friday pitching what I thought were some pretty revolutionary ideas for transforming the content of our local ITV news coverage.

It's a privilege to have been invited to join the consortium of The Journal's owners and its partners in their bid to win the independently funded news consortium pilot for the North East.

I've watched the local news here since the first day of Tyne Tees and frankly, I don't think much has changed in those 50 years.

Now we have a chance to do something about it.

This experiment, to be paid for by an unspent part of the BBC licence fee (because what could be more relevant to public service broadcasting than improving our vitally important regional service?) is an opportunity to try out something completely new: England's first local multi-media news.

There are three million licence payers in our region who currently receive not a single, locally produced, network programme, so it's only fair that we should be given the best regional news service.

And, as Sir John Hall correctly pointed out in a public meeting on Friday afternoon, over the years we've allowed ITV to strip us of virtually all our much-loved local programmes.

Now, with the aid of a substantial newspaper resource and a layered multi-platform approach, we could begin to turn the tide.

But first we had to convince the panel, led by former Radio Authority chairman Richard Hooper. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them: they are not only extremely experienced, but are clearly committed to giving our region something special.

Certainly it's been a more pleasant experience putting this bid together than the last time I tried for a regional television franchise. # That was back in the 1990s, when I put my company Mentorn up against the might of Greg Dyke's London Weekend Television. …

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