29/09/2010

Hunt Targets Local Broadcasting Boost

The Culture Secretary has been outlining his sometimes confused plans for decentralised TV services across the UK.

In a speech to the Royal Television Society at the end of September, the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt said the Government's commitment was to decentralise broadcasting and to increase localisation.

But on one hand he said if broadcasters want to be promoted on Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) then they would have to also deliver a certain amount of local content - while also underlining that ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are safe from being "pushed into digital television".

He instead wants to reward media companies who back a new generation of local TV and online services with these EPG slots.

But his message appeared confused, as on one hand he appeared to have 'guaranteed' these main broadcasters would be protected while he was himself pushing local content.

"Of course not all Public Service Broadcasters will want, or be able, to be local broadcasters," he said, while also insisting: "I'm determined that we should recognise the public value in those that do."

He said: "If other people are prepared to do their bit then that should be recognised in where they sit on the EPG,"

Mr Hunt's speech outlined a vision of a network of local, cross-platform multimedia TV services which would broadcast for as little as an hour a day and be free to affiliate with each other to bring down costs.

He said they would be able to offer nationwide deals to advertisers and even to 'piggyback' on existing national networks, including broadband infrastructure and to exploit new technologies such as Canvas, YouView and mobile TV.

He said he will encourage the development of this new local landscape by removing all the local cross-media ownership rules, redefining Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) to emphasise local content and also by legislating to clarify which PSBs should be listed on the front page of electronic programme guides and their online equivalents and working with the BBC to encourage partnership with local media providers

"I will begin the process of redefining public service broadcasting for the digital age by asking Ofcom to look at how we can ensure that enough emphasis is given to the delivery of local content," said Hunt.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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