Jobs at risk as Archant looks to sell local TV channel after failing to generate profit since launch

Archant is planning to sell its local TV service, putting staff at risk of redundancy, as the regional publisher’s chief executive admits the station has not been in profit since launching three years ago.

Proposals are to sell Mustard TV to That’s TV Group, which claims to be the UK’s largest local TV licence operator, in exchange for a stake in the business – making Archant a minority shareholder.

Mustard TV, which is based at Archant’s Prospect House headquarters in Norwich and broadcasts to 162,000 homes in the Norfolk city and the surrounding area, went live in March 2014.

It was the second UK local TV station to be granted a license by Ofcom as part of a Government-backed scheme that was subsidised by £40m from the BBC licence fee for the first three years.

In a statement, Archant said: “We are proposing to sell Mustard TV to That’s TV Group, in exchange for a stake in the That’s TV Group business.

“We have consistently said that the success of local TV will come from consolidation and are excited to be a minority shareholder in a company with a significantly larger portfolio of local licences.”

In an email to staff, seen by Press Gazette, Archant chief executive Jeff Henry said: “The local television market is difficult however, the audience reach for Mustard is restricted by the licence we operate under, and the revenues we are able to generate have not proved sufficient to enable us to make a profit since the station launched.

“I have consistently said that the success of local Television will come from consolidation which can bring the right mix of shared investment and skills needed to make this financially viable; we simply can’t afford this on our own.”

He added: “That’s TV operate their channels using a different staffing and operating model than the one we use in Mustard, with a greater use of shared and freelance resources across their network.

“If the proposal goes ahead they have indicated they will not need the current Archant staff to operate the Norwich station but we are seeking where at all possible to avoid making redundancies by retaining as many employees as we can within Archant by finding alternative roles.”

If it goes ahead, the sale is expected to be completed in September.

The channel is expected to continue broadcasting from Archant’s Norwich offices for the first year after being sold, but Henry said that “operationally, the Norwich station will work closely with its new sister station in Cambridge”.

That’s TV is a privately-owned business with a network of ten Local TV franchises in Basingstoke, Guildford, Lancashire, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge, Thames Valley, York, Carlisle and the Solent area.

Comments

7 thoughts on “Jobs at risk as Archant looks to sell local TV channel after failing to generate profit since launch”

  1. Mustard tv was a complete disaster even before its stalled launch, Archant were desperate to get the broadcast license just to prevent any other group winning it and taking as revenue from its patch, ( ironic as Archant failed to take any revenue and did nothing but accrue costs and losses )hence money,time and resources were thrown st getting it at any cost and boy what a cost that’s been, not only in huge financial loss terms,£657,000 in its first year alone, but in terms of the company’s loss of credibility and incompetence in a medium it clearly doesn’t understand also by demonstrating,albeit to only a handful of viewers, just how completely out of their depths in broadcast/ new media the company is at the same time letting the core business go to rack and ruin while this car crash vanity project played out.
    The plug should have been pulled on this fiasco as soon as the losses stated to mount but with some big egoes at play,lots of tub thumping braggadocio from those responsible for it and with it being company money it was a runaway train on a collision course from the get go allowed to lumber along losing money hand over fist eeek after week.
    No one will be sorry to see this complete shambles go apart from those wannabe tv stars from the editorial ranks who were involved with it.
    Hopefully someone will be held accountable for the untold damage this shambles has done to the company, damage it may not be able to recover from

  2. Shut down with extreme haste – staff leaving the building today a fortnight after closure was announced! Still, don’t worry, The New European has yet another terribly witty cover – leading someone to maybe their biggest concern about Archant: not why are my papers going over the cliff at speeds the average leeming would baulk at, but why doesn’t TNE get reviewed on the BBC New Channel? Priorities…

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