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Points North: Chris Johnson, CEO of Bay TV Liverpool


Points-North-siteEach Friday in Points North, one of the North’s leading media personalities will be giving us their take on the news covered by Prolific North over the last seven days. This week it’s the turn of Chris Johnson, former editor and MD of Mercury Press and now CEO of Bay TV Liverpool.

Surveying the news for Points North presented a great temptation, for a “naturalised Scouser” like me, to have a good old whinge.

chrisjohnsonBut I will resist the urge to moan about how the week’s news seemed to focus primarily on the exploits of companies in Manchester and Leeds.

Doubtless it is Liverpool’s fault if we have failed to blow our own trumpet. (Memo to self: must send-out more press releases to PN!)

What did strike me – in the wake of the upbeat launch of the new Liverpool Sunday Echo – was that most newspaper editors are managing decline, rather than pushing to increase sales and profitability.

Other titles would do well to emulate the Sunday Echo and learn to re-invent themselves, not just in print but online too.

It must be bean counters at Newsquest who have come up with the crazy idea of switching production of the Northern Echo to Wales.

How can it be right to run a local newspaper from an office 275 miles away? Journalists at the historic Darlington title have voted in an NUJ strike call. They might be better advised to call-in psychiatrists to analyse the sanity of the Newsquest board.

Congratulations to Liverpool’s Lime Pictures. ITV has ordered three more series of the hit reality entertainment series The Only Way is Essex. I still find it weird that Lime could not make “Desperate Scousewives” work. Too close to home maybe?

Natural-born Scouser Sue Woodward is doing fantastic work at The Sharp Project in Manchester.

Playground squad, funded by Sony PlayStation and Electronic Arts, is a new training ground for tomorrow’s game creators. Another coup for The Sharp Project. A decade ago Liverpool was a world leader in computer games. Now it lags behind.

Hey Sue! Get back over here to explain to the mayor and Liverpool Council what they need to do to emulate Manchester’s success.

And finally more tidings of doom on the newspaper front.

The Oldham Advertiser has more than halved its print run, just eight months after a “radical and unconventional” re-design.

Typical of the mess bean counters create. Now they talk about “realignment of a distribution model”. It means cutting the print run to 24,000, with free copies available at supermarkets, while folk without a car need to pay 75p to get one from “selected local newsagents”.

Surely, this is madness of a high order.

Steve Anderson-Dixon, regional managing director Trinity Mirror claims the distribution changes will “ensure better value for advertisers”. He is reported to be pinning his hopes for the future on the “imminent launch” of an e-edition.

Unbelievable! In my opinion e-editions are as much a kiss of death as trying to charge 75p for an advertising-led freesheet.

I say, “re-align” the employment of marketing experts and advertising gurus and hand the job of running newspapers to the people who really understand the product: journalists.

Chris Johnson is CEO of Bay TV Liverpool, the new local TV station that is set to launch on Freeview Channel 8 later this year.

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