By the end of this year, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt plans to give out the first Local
Television licenses in the UK. He hopes to have a number of initial services up and running by June 2015.
Why is this happening?
The government say they want local media to improve in order to increase local democracy. It will give the people “a role in holding institutions to account”, and “influence” where they live.They want local news to help people to understand and engage with the issues in their areas.
In theory, it should provide an unprecedented platform for local creativity and talent.
How much will it cost?
Current figures suggest…
How will it work?
It will be a Freeview-based service, timed with the completion of the digital switch over. It’s been said that Local TV services will take up £80m of the digital spectrum. It will all be run under one operator or company, prospectively called ‘MuxCo’.
Who will get Local TV?
OFCOM originally identified 65 towns and cities as ‘potential pioneer locations’ with good coverage for the service. Four months later, this list of locations was cut back dramatically and without any real explanation.
We created the map below to demonstrate the breakdown of the originally proposed locations.
Blue shows the first 20 locations to receive licenses.
Red shows the second wave of licenses.
Green pins are locations that have completely dropped off the radar.
The map shows that large areas across the UK will not be receiving local television services, despite being funded by licence payers’ money. This is partially due to a cut on the original towns listed, and partly due to the nature of the Freeview service.
The chart below shows what a scale-back this is from the original plan. A large proportion of locations have been cut from this plan. Vast areas of the UK will be left without this service, and it’s one they’re paying for.
Some have critised the use of Freeview as a platform for local tv, citing the internet as a far more viable option. Freeview will exclude some geographical areas, such as the Scottish Highlands, from participating, due to their lack of coverage.
Jeremy Hunt has stated that these services must self-sustain after initial funding, and many have drawn up questions about how realistic this really is in a time where local print and radio media is shutting at a rapid rate.
The BBC is also commited to purchasing content from these stations over the first few years to feed back into national programming. After initial funding, these channels will then be expected to be commercially run, competing with other local news organisations for advertising and sponsorship.
It’s clear there is still a lot to think about when it comes to rolling out Local TV over the next few years. Although it has its concerns, any supporter of Community Media will be excited about the potential opportunities it will bring.
We would love to hear what you have to think about this scheme, please take part in our poll below.
You can read more about Local TV plans here.
Have you been part of an application for a Local TV license? Is this new form of community media exciting or concerning for you? As always Follow @communityraedio, or comment on our blog.