Minister announces local TV channel plans

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt today unveiled his plan to make local television "a reality".





The minister announced an Action Plan For Local Media at the Oxford Media Convention and invited firms to register their interest in running a new channel, which will carry local news and content, by March 1.



Licences for local television services will be handed out before the end of 2012.



In a speech to the convention, Mr Hunt said: "To make this vision a reality I am today inviting existing and new media providers to come forward with suggestions as to how this network channel - or local TV 'spine' - could work.



"What this will mean, for consumers, is a new channel dedicated to the provision of local news and content. One that will sit alongside other public service broadcasters, offering a new voice for local communities, with local perspectives that are directly relevant to them.



"We won't be prescriptive. We will wait for the necessary technical assessment to be completed and we will listen to the commercially viable proposals that come forward.



"Our goal is to be able to award the relevant licences by the end of 2012, and for local TV to be up and running soon after."



Mr Hunt added that "impartiality regulations" would apply to the television services.



A panel set up to examine the idea said local television channels might broadcast in only "10 to 12" areas to begin with.



The review chaired by investment banker Nicholas Shott said it would take "significant effort" to make the plan a success.



Its report, published last year, said the channels "may initially be focused in and around 10 to 12 conurbations" and provide "at least two hours of reasonably low-cost but high quality content a day".









Mr Hunt continued: "It is easy to be patronising about hyper-local services, but take a look at the evidence of what consumers truly value.



"Eight out of 10 consider local news important, nearly seven out of 10 adults feel localness of stories is more important than them being professionally produced."



He added: "People in Barnham don't want to watch what is going on in Southampton. People in Chelmsford aren't interested in what's happening in Watford. That is the system we currently have at the moment, so that is what we are trying to rethink."



Mr Hunt said 24 hours a day of local news and content is "not viable".



"However passionate people are about what is going on in Oxford, they probably have broader interests in what is going on in the rest of the world," he said.



Mr Hunt has long championed the concept of local television.



In an interview at last year's Edinburgh International Television Festival, he described the media as "chronically over-centralised".



He said: "It is crazy that a city like Sheffield, for example, does not have its own television station like it would have in most other developed countries."



The Government's masterplan said its goal is "10-20 local TV services operating by 2015".



But it adds: "The eventual aim for local TV is that it is made available throughout the UK, providing local and relevant content to all who want to access it.



"However, given the commercial uncertainty involved in relation to acquiring capacity and developing a sustainable revenue proposition, it is clear that local TV cannot simply be launched across the UK immediately."



The BBC agreed to cover start-up costs of up to £25 million in 2013/14 for local TV, for up to 20 services, as part of last year's licence fee settlement.



It will also offer funding up to £5 million a year for three years from 2014/15 as part of the deal.



At the convention, Mr Hunt also vowed to create a new Communications Act.



The last Act, created seven years ago, needs to be updated to facilitate "fast-paced" media, he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee