'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 unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
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

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker