NWN Media and UTV's Wales Live partnership has been announced as the preferred bidder for the Government's Independently Funded News Consortium (IFNC) pilot project in Wales.

Michael Wilson, Managing Director, UTV Television said: "What a fantastic achievement for the Wales Live team, we put our hearts and souls into winning this bid.

"With our partners NWN Media, we look forward to delivering a fresh and authoritative news service to the whole of Wales across TV, online and radio with the current ITV Wales news team. The process is still on-going and we remain fully committed to moving forward on contracts with ITV and DCMS. "

David Faulkner, Managing Director, NWN Media said: "We are delighted with today's announcement and look forward to working with our partner UTV and the local ITV Wales news team to bring Wales Live to life across all platforms. Wales Live will reflect fully the needs of a devolved nation in conjunction with local and community media across both north and South Wales."

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) news release described the Wales Live plans as "a model which would deliver a harder-edged TV news programme reflecting the needs of a devolved nation in conjunction with local and community media across both north and South Wales.

"A strong track record in Northern Ireland gave credibility to a clear vision for an innovative community-based approach in conjunction with citizen journalists and its newspaper partner NWN Media."

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain said: "Today's announcement will ensure  the future of quality independent Welsh news.  I congratulate Wales Live whose bid reflected the move to the new digital future of news technology in Wales and the way Welsh audiences will consume news in the future. It is fundamentally important for Wales to have its own independent Welsh news provider serving our nation and properly eflecting devolution in Wales."

The Government is planning to run three pilot schemes to deliver new ways of providing news for the nations, locally and in the regions to urgently address the sustainability of local and regional news provision in the longer term.

Chair of the independent selection panel Richard Hooper said: "In Wales and Scotland, in addition to strong proposals for regional, local and hyperlocal / community news, the bidders put forward credible ideas for quality news for those nations which is urgently needed as a result of devolution. We asked for innovation and we were not disappointed."

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: "This is an important step towards our goal of ensuring choice for people who value high quality independent local news. 

"The funding availability to these consortia represents a massive commitment from this Government to help encourage the long term sustainability of news in the nations, locally and in the regions. I hope this focused work will now continue with everyone working together to ensure these pilots are up and running by the end of the year."

NWN Media is a multi-media publisher focusing on newspaper, magazine and internet publishing based in Mold. It's and is a family owned business that has been bringing news to the regions of North Wales and the Borders for over 150 years.

NWN Media newspaper portfolio includes the three editions of The Leader circulating in Wrexham, Flintshire and Chester and weekly papers across North Wales, Mid Wales, Cheshire and Shropshire.

Northern Ireland's local news programme UTV Live is the most watched regional news programme in the whole of the UK. Last year UTV Live's audience averaged an impressive 34% share well ahead of BBC Northern Ireland's news share of 26% and more than double that of ITV Wales Tonight's 15% share.

UTV and NWN Media already have an unrivalled standard of journalism and of high quality production and offer comprehensive coverage. Click on www.waleslive.tv to find out more about Wales Live.