MPs back plan for local TV

More than 120 MPs have backed a plan to introduce a UK wide local channel on Freeview.

The idea, out forward by a coalition of local TV operators and campaigners called United for Local Television, has gained the support of 122 MPs.

The purposed local television network on the Freeview platform, Channel 6, could carry local news, programming and advertising. It would also run ‘networked’ public service content.

United for Local Television argued that local TV would be more focused on local content than current regional output on the BBC and ITV.

The BBC ditched ultra local news plans last year as part of its corporation wide cutbacks. It said it would concentrate on developing online news services, investing £300m in the project, subject to approval by the BBC Trust. ITV announced plans last year to reduce its regional news programming from 17 to 9.

United for Local Television wants the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to introduce the new channel before analogue switchoff in 2012.

The Early Day Motion, signed by 122 MPs, was proposed by Ian Stewart MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Community Media and MP for Eccles.

Stewart said: ‘UK citizens are amongst the least well served in the entire democratic world for access to local news and information from television. It is vital that at least one channel (out of a potential 30+ channels on Freeview) is protected as a local channel providing a forum to debate and discuss local issues.”

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