Newsnet Scotland and Bateman Broadcasting set to join forces

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  By G.A.Ponsonby

Plans for a new independent Scottish media platform took a step closer this week with news that Newsnet Scotland and Bateman Broadcasting have held talks aimed at merging both outlets.

The two organisations are part of the new generation of online media which have burst onto the scene in Scotland, challenging traditional news vendors.

The meeting, which took place on Wednesday in Glasgow, saw representatives of both organisations agree to work together in order to create a single news and views portal marrying the written word with video and radio broadcasts.

The surprise move was revealed yesterday by former BBC presenter Derek Bateman.  Writing on his blog, the broadcaster and journalist said:

“The idea, in conjunction with the founders of Newsnet and others, is to combine the written word – news, analysis and comment based around the well established and popular Newsnet brand – the first and original – with digital programming, both radio and on screen, through batemanbroadcasting, produced by my production partner TVI.

“It would mean all formats in one wrapper bringing together Newsnet, Derek Bateman Broadcaster, batemanbroadcasting.com and other content providers we negotiate with.”

The announcement comes in the wake of the independence referendum, which saw the No campaign win by 55% to 45%.  The result has witnessed an extraordinary explosion of energy from pro-independence supporters with tens of thousands of people signing up to join the SNP, the Greens and the SSP.

It has also led to an increase in mistrust of the traditional media with huge swathes of the population angered at what they say is anti-independence corruption at the heart of the BBC.  A great many are pledging to refuse to pay their TV liccence.

Commenting, Newsnet Scotland editor Lynda Williamson called the merger plans “exciting” and said the Newsnet team were ready for the next phase in the site’s evolution.

“Newsnet Scotland came into existence in the spring of 2009 when it was an online newsletter sent to around 400 subscribers” she said.

“Already this month we have over 400,000 unique visitors – an incredible achievement for a site that is run by part time, unpaid volunteers.”

Ms Williamson accepted that, despite the impressive figures that the site had to look to expand in order to attract a wider section of society.

“Scotland has several online outlets, each providing something different.

“At Newsnet Scotland we felt the time was right to see if we could collaborate with others.

“It is vital that the new media expands and fulfils its promise if we are to challenge the traditional media which so badly let Scotland down with its appalling one sided coverage of the independence referendum.”

Derek Bateman added:

“We want  to be different, editorially free and low cost. Our aim to offer an alternative and intelligent experience in digital print and broadcast combining known writers with new voices to reflect a changed Scotland. People respond to a more thoughtful and nuanced media experience in which they feel they learn something.

“We want to fill gaps in content and tone which politically radical Scots feel they are missing. Conventional media is remote. We want our people to feel ownership of our output.”

Last night witnessed a debate on BBC Scotland’s evening current affairs programme Scotland 2014 on alleged anti-independence bias within the media.  The programme featured the BBC’s head of politics Ric Bailey, who defended the BBC’s handling of the referendum against criticism from Bella Caledonia Editor Mike Small.

Commenting on the BBC discussion, Ms Williamson added: “The discussion was symptomatic of all that is wrong with the BBC.

“Newsnet Scotland was not contacted by anyone at BBC Scotland despite the programme focusing on online media.

“We contacted the editor and pointed to the guilty verdict handed down by the BBC’s own watchdog after Reporting Scotland misled viewers over a key referendum issue.

“This, and a statement we prepared, were both ignored.”

Newsnet Scotland will continue discussions with Bateman Broadcasting and a further announcement will be published soon.

Meanwhile, an appeal to establish a new Scottish Broadcasting Service has more than doubled its £10,000 goal in less than 24 hours.

The appeal, led by writer and broadcaster Jack Foster told potential donors:

“What we want to create, is a daily, fully staffed national news programme for Scotland, backed up by a professional team of full time journalists, correspondents, production and technical staff – no half measures, a genuine challenger to your News at Ten,”