'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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
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
Latest stories from i100
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

UI Designer / UX Designer

£40 - 60k + Amazing Benefits: Guru Careers: A UI Designer / UX Designer is nee...

SEO Manager / SEO Expert / Head of Search

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: An SEO Manager / SEO Expert is needed to join an inno...

Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

£30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis