Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Preferred ITV Wales news provider chosen

Ulster Television and NWN have been named prefered bidders to run news on ITV Wales

A north Wales newspaper group and Northern Ireland TV company is the preferred bidder to provide news for ITV Wales.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) chose Wales Live, a consortium run by UTV and NWN Media.

Wales Live said it aimed to bring a "fresh and authoritative" service with the existing ITV Wales news team.

Meanwhile, a review of the Welsh media has proposed changes to "get better value" for £300m of public money.

The creative industries report investigated how public funds could generate jobs and wealth from media.

It recommends the establishment of a Digital Wales Board and Creative Industries Fund.

Wales Live will reflect fully the needs of a devolved nation in conjunction with local and community media across both north and south Wales
David Faulkner, managing director of NWN Media

The report's publication coincided with news that the UTV/NWN consortium has been chosen as the preferred bidders for the £12m contract to provide ITV Wales' news service.

Two-year pilots to run regional news in Wales, Scotland and the Tyne Tees/Border region, were adopted by the UK government after ITV raised concerns that local news had become too expensive for them to produce.

As well as running the ITV channel in Northern Ireland, Belfast-based UTV also have radio stations including Talk Sport.

NWN's newspapers include the Leader in Wrexham, Flintshire and Chester and weekly titles in Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.

Chair of the independent selection panel Richard Hooper said: "We were attracted to UTV's very strong philosophy of hard news."

Mr Hooper added that judges also liked the consortium's emphasis on community websites and the importance placed on newspapers, "so that the north of Wales is not forgotten".

Michael Wilson, managing director, UTV Television said Wales Live aimed to deliver a "fresh and authoritative news service to the whole of Wales across TV, online and radio with the current ITV Wales news team".

David Faulkner, managing director of NWN Media said it would "reflect fully the needs of a devolved nation in conjunction with local and community media across both north and south Wales."

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain welcomed the DCMS decision, saying Welsh viewers "need a choice" of TV news providers.

The UK government has stated around 60 existing ITV staff will transfer to Wales Live which will use existing facilities in Cardiff as well as creating a new North Wales news hub at Mold.

North Wales News and Swansea Sound news staff will also supplement news coverage.

Disappointment was expressed by rival bidders Tinopolis and Taliesin News, which includes the existing ITV Wales news team.

Tinopolis executive chairman Ron Jones said: "This was a chance to drag Wales' news into the 21st Century and radically change the news provision in Wales for the better."

Serious overhaul

Meanwhile, a creative industries review was published.

Commissioned by the assembly government, it was carried out by Professor Ian Hargreaves, a former director of BBC news and current affairs.

His report's recommendations include the establishment of a digital Wales board and a creative industries board, both to be led by an experienced individual from outside government.

It also calls for the creation of a new creative industries fund to replace the assembly government's current creative IP fund.

Television screens in a shop window
A review of Welsh media says "better value" could be had for 300m of public money.

Other proposals include a serious overhaul of business support services to creative industries.

Prof Hargreaves also stressed the importance of further developments around the new BBC drama village in Cardiff Bay, particularly the corporation's own plans to consider developing a new media city to replace the existing studios in Llandaff.

Assembly government ministers say they have already begun work to implement some of the recommendations.

Prof Hargreaves said his review suggested ways Wales can get "better value" for the large sums of public money currently being spent.

"Handled in the right way, this is a very promising sector for quality jobs and economic growth," he said.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said there was an urgent need to "improve the coherence" of assembly government support so the Welsh media industry can maximise opportunities.

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