Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has identified the 20 towns and cities which are to be in the vanguard of his Local TV experiment.
This follows the announcement in August of 65 potential sites for Local TV.
The ‘pioneer’Local TV areas, which could have stations by 2014, will be: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea.
These were said to have ‘significant levels of interest from potential operators”.
A further 24 areas identified for the next stage of Local TV licences are: Aberdeen, Ayr, Bangor, Barnstaple, Basingstoke, Bedford, Cambridge, Carlisle, Derry/Londonderry, Dundee, Guildford, Hereford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Limavady, Luton, Maidstone, Malvern, Mold, Salisbury, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Stratford upon Avon and York.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Local TV will be a fundamental change in broadcasting in this country, meeting a real demand for local news and content. We are now putting in place the measures needed to establish a series of commercially viable local TV stations.
“I am confident these new stations will provide local communities with programming which is relevant to their daily lives, will support local democracy, boost the Big Society and enhance local communities.”
The Government is now taking a number of steps to ‘create a new statutory framework for licensing that will allow for transmission infrastructure to be built and the new local TV services to start operating”.
Local TV is expected to air on Channel 6 on Freeview and is being paid for with capital funding of £25m, and then a further £5m a year towards running costs for the first three years, taken from the BBC licence fee.
The Department of Culture said that three pieces of legislation will shortly be laid in Parliament to make the necessary changes.
- “Spectrum – an Order under section 5 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 will direct Ofcom to make available a small amount of low-value geographic interleaved (GI) spectrum at transmitters across the UK for each new local TV station to be broadcast on. Securing this spectrum will be fundamental to the success of local TV as it provides certainty for potential bidders and a solid base from which local services can launch.
- “Local licensing – an Order under section 244 of the Communications Act 2003 will create a local television licensing regime and place obligations on a new spectrum and multiplex licence holder to build the necessary infrastructure and carry the local services. The local licences will be required to provide a range of programmes that are relevant to local communities including coverage of news and current affairs.
- “EPG prominence – an Order under section 310 of the Communications Act 2003 will add local television services to the list of channels which must be given appropriate prominence on electronic programme guides (EPGs). This will help to ensure high visibility of the local TV services on television sets, enhancing their chances of commercial viability. Sky and Virgin have committed to offering apps or the yellow button for audiences to access IPTV or video-on-demand local TV services from their front pages.”