The tortuous process of picking a winner

Well, the easy bit is out of the way, with the Channel 5 bids safely dispatched in their smart binders to the Independent Television Commission. The ITC must now begin the tortuous business of assessing each one, line by line, before announcing its decision by 30 November at the latest.

Part one of the decision-making process is a period of public consultation. Potential viewers, MPs, interested industry parties and so on have until the 13 June to scrutinise each bid - either at a local library or by obtaining 12-page summaries from the ITC - and make their views and concerns known to the commission.

Under the 1990 Broadcasting Act, the ITC is obliged to award the Channel 5 licence to the highest bidder provided it has met prescribed programming and technical requirements. In addition to the cash bid, which will be paid annually, each consortium's application comes appended with programme proposals and a business plan.

The commission has to be convinced that a prospective operator's business plan, which remains confidential, can sustain a service for the 10-year licence period. This was where Thames, the only bidder on the last occasion Channel 5 was offered for auction, fell down.

The plan must also include satisfactory proposals for adjusting domestic electrical equipment such as video recorders, satellite receivers, home computers and video games, which could experience interference from the frequency Channel 5 will use. VCRs will be most affected, with the cost of retuning them put at £60m to £120m.

The responsibility for retuning and the burden of cost lies with the licensee. To minimise disruption, the ITC has said it expects equipment to be retuned before requests come in from viewers. However, retuning must be carried out within 21 days of a request.

Operators also have to satisfy various programming requirements, but these appear straightforward alongside the technical demands. In addition to an initial requirement that 40 per cent of programmes be originally produced or commissioned for Channel 5, there are four mandated programme categories - news, current affairs, children's and religious.

The ITC also demands that the proposed service must "include programmes of high quality and appeal to a wide variety of tastes and interests". Applicants must therefore justify any decision not to feature any of a list of non-mandatory strands: arts, documentaries, drama, education, entertainment and sport.

Provided these technical and quality issues are satisfied, the commission must honour the highest bidder. Unless, that is, there are "exceptional circumstances". Which means? If, for example, the quality of service being offered was exceptionally high, then the commission has discretion to award the licence to a lower bidder. RW

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor