IFNCs: A Grand Coalition Bid For Wales, UTV For North-East

The independently-funded news consortium (IFNC) pilot in Wales has attracted a bid from a remarkably broad alliance comprising…

  • ITV (LSE: ITV) Wales’ existing staff
  • ITN
  • DMGT’s Northcliffe
  • Gannett’s Newsquest
  • Tindle Newspapers
  • indie TV producer Boomerang
  • Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media & Cultural Studies

Former ITV News CEO Clive Jones CBE is leading the team, which he’s calling (rather poorly) Taliesin News (after the sixth-century poet). This may be the most interesting bid so far in any of the three IFNC regions (Wales, Scotland and north-east England) – both satisfying Ofcom’s likely concern that any bidders have sufficient scale to cover national politics and ensuring the survival of ITV Wales News in some form despite ITV likely giving up on regional news after 2012.

The IFNCs were conceived by Digital Britain author Lord Carter to be “multimedia” consortia. Taliesin certainly ticks that box – comprising TV, radio, regional and local newspapers; each of which has their own existing online outlets (Tindle boasts its websites are “already excellent” – some may beg to differ).

The three newspaper publishers have more than 25 titles between them. Northcliffe’s South West Wales Media publishes the South Wales Evening Post and sister titles, Newsquest runs from the South Wales Argus to the Milford Mercury and Tindle extends in to mid Wales as well as the Welsh-language paper Y Cymro.

The inclusion of the university seems to allow students of the city’s Centre for Journalism Studies (one of the UK’s top three journalism training centres) to gain professional experience.

What’s less clear is how exactly this large collective can function as a single entity – if, indeed, that will even turn out to be Ofcom’s desire. Is the coalition so broad that any money used by each member would end up watered down? And is this just the bid that props up a failing ITV?

Tinopolis, ITN and Wales Live (a proposed UTV/North Wales Newspapers JV) had already bid for the Wales pilot, Ofcom said at an event this month. There, Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) also declared its intention to bid but declined to name any partner (Update: We’re hearing it may be pulling out after earlier hoping for an ITN tie-up).

One more group (Ten Alps?) and possibly two may bid before the end-of-year deadline, depending on how the chips fall in negotiations. Update: Ten Alps tells us it’s ruled itself out of Wales.

Meanwhile, UTV says it will bid for the north-east England pilot alone for proposed “Border Live” and “North East Live” services, going up against ITN and a coalition formed by Trinity Mirror, Press Association and Ten Alps, Guardian.co.uk reports.