Last weeks decision to award the Scottish Television news provision to a collective dominated by 3 of our biggest newspapers might just have given us all a glimpse of the future.
It’s been pointed out quite a bit recently that the biggest flaw with newspapers is their business model. It isn’t that people don’t want news, they do. They clearly want local news as much as ever, one of the great ironies of the internet is how localised it has become, after all Facebook is simply the news you are interested in delivered by your friends, it doesn’t get any more local than that. No the problem facing newspapers is the paper part of their business, that’s the bit most aren’t interested in anymore.
So when the Scotland’s top broadsheet dailies and its only independent Sunday get the chance to provide the local news on our largest commercial television station I think we can assume our media market is changing, probably forever.
Glasgow has a strong TV production industry so finding the talent to actual make the programmes shouldn’t be a problem, and you have to assume that between them the Sunday Post, the Herald and the Scotsman can provide the news. So as advertisers we shouldn’t need to worry too much about quality of the programmes.
But as advertisers what questions should we be asking. Firstly will the ‘news’ now be sold separately? This seems unlikely, after all plenty of programmes are made by independent companies currently and they don’t sell the space on them. Will the group be looking for commercial partners to finance the programmes? This might be more intriguing going forward. TV stations are increasingly demanding that independent production companies not only supply the finished programme but that they have commercial sponsorship included in the proposal. The other unknown is of course audience reaction. If the new company are smart they’ll stick quite closely to the existing format and presenters, at first anyway. Alienating their audience is the last thing STV currently need, particularly on a flagship programme such as this.
The other questions concern the ‘papers’, what are their long term futures now their management have TV programmes to make? Apart from the journalistic synergies what other synergies are there? Assuming they won’t be cross-selling this will have little benefit for their beleaguered sales teams. Can we assume this move into broadcast is only the first step, will they fancy making sports or business programmes next? Also who will own the internet broadcast rights? Will I be able to watch the local TV news on my local newspapers website for example; and more pertinently advertise on it?
We’re quite excited by this development.
Scotland needs a vibrant media and it hasn’t had that recently. If this is the first step in revitalising it then we are all in favour of it. If it means our local news will remain produced and delivered locally then so much the better. However as professional advertisers we need to be assured the value for money is delivered and the correct audiences reached; otherwise this simply becomes another cost-cutting exercise, and we’ve had too many of them already.
The Herald, The Scotsman, the Sunday Post and Scottish Television are Scottish institutions, however as Groucho Marx once remarked ‘who wants to live in an institution?’ Hopefully we all will.