'Loony TV', the first local channel, faces closedown

If you tuned in yesterday to Britain's first local television channel, you might think blizzards had hit Scotland. In fact, Lanarkshire TV has transmitter problems.

If you tuned in yesterday to Britain's first local television channel, you might think blizzards had hit Scotland. In fact, Lanarkshire TV has transmitter problems.

Another problem is LTV's failure to pay any of its 32 staff since Christmas Eve, prompting Shereen Tulloch, the blond breakfast show anchor, to leave suddenly. Her erstwhile colleagues say she left "to become a weather girl in London" but, whatever the reason, it spelt the end of Good Morning Lanarkshire. Since last week, LTV broadcasts begin at 4pm.

To reach the LTV studios, one must drive past the razor-wired fences of Shotts prison, down a remote lane across moorland and then up to the semi-derelict Hartwood sanatorium. This former Victorian asylum is a far cry from the breezy American stations it imitates. There the top presenters can earn millions of dollars; here most staff are on less than £10,000.

Thanks to the asylum, LTV has been dubbed "Loony TV". Yet, once inside, there is a buzz of young enthusiasm alongside the familiar editing suites and hi-tech studios churning out the daily news. "Fire struck a house in Newmains last night," announced Gary Pews, before an item from the Newmains library to mark World Book Day.

Gary did one report on Lanarkshire street cleaning from inside a wheelie bin but some other original concepts have had to be scrapped. Cupboard Cuisine, in which a presenter was meant to call on unsuspecting householders and cook a meal from their larders, never reached the airwaves. But there is still Talented Lanarkshire, which spots the stars of the future and Remote Control, a quiz programme, coming this week from Lanark Grammar.

Tall Tales has a puppet called Bookworm reading to the under-fives and the nature slot - Animal Magic - is a camera crew dispatched to the zoo. The cookery programme amounts to a visit to a local restaurant, where the chef of the house cooks a meal.

The station went on air last April to provide community-based programmes for this part of central Scotland. Yesterday, staff were putting a brave face on reports that it is nearing closure because of the financial crisis.

"The tidal wave of goodwill is ebbing away, but we're still here," said one staff member, unpaid for two months and admitting that some people are having trouble paying their bus fares into work. Hours are long and some of the staff sleep over to avoid travelling back and forth to work.

A number say that, for all its faults, LTV may be their one chance to make it into the glamorous world of television. "I was on work experience at a local paper before I came here," said one. "There was no way I could be doing what I'm doing now at the BBC or STV."

The station has already proved a good platform for an out-of-work signmaker and a former fireman who are LTV's resident comedy duo, Tam and Shug. Almost every night Jim Walker and John McQuiston entertain the few in Lanarkshire who can tune in. The double act have just won a BBC contract.

John MacKenzie, 64, LTV's managing director, is stunned at the loyalty of his staff. "It is incredible. There can be no other industry like this, where people are not paid and they still come to work. We have had one defection. I am amazed and grateful for the dedication."

Yesterday, Mr MacKenzie was trying to secure a £400,000 investment to save the station so that he can pay the staff and begin broadcasting from a new, bigger transmitter.

LTV was set up with a £2,000, four-year licence from the Independent Television Commission and is the model for up to 60 other local television stations that are expected to start transmitting in the next few years. Stations for the Isle of Wight and Oxford have already been approved.

Funding is meant to come from advertising and sponsorship as local shops and businesses see the opportunities of buying airtime. Mr MacKenzie says that once his transmitter is set up properly, more than 500,000 people should be able to tune in, although at the moment only the lucky few in central parts of the county - probably fewer than 100,000 - can receive a snow-free picture.

The ITC, which has the power to close down television companies, has heaped praise on the pioneering station in the face of heavy criticism from newspapers, who are suspected of reflecting their owners' own broadcasting ambitions.

"The problem," said one dogged staff member "is that the management was overambitious at the beginning, trying to broadcast from 8am till midnight, with 90 per cent of the output home produced. But there is still a lot of commitment to make this work."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn