16/12/2010

Internet To Broadcast Local TV Channels

A report into the conditions necessary for financially viable local TV stations has been published.

The key findings of the report included that in the long term, local TV will probably be delivered via Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) rather than 'traditional' broadcast.

Commissioned by Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt in June - the report, by Nicholas Shott - is to help the Government understand how it could maximise the potential for local TV to emerge in the UK.

In the shorter term, a presence on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) will allow local TV to develop a sustainable market position.

The Shott report also said that the regulator, Ofcom should be asked to consider further the technical options for the delivery of local TV and that 10-12 conurbations should be chosen to host trial local TV services, providing at least two hours of high-quality local content per day.

Local TV should be broadcast on a single DTT channel, which is prominently displayed on the DTT Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), and where possible on satellite and cable EPGs.

Public Service Broadcasters could promote local TV services by, for example, on screen red-button prompts or insertion of local programming into a national channel's regional schedule and local TV services should benefit from the shared resources and advertising capacity of a national broadcaster acting as a 'backbone'.

Jeremy Hunt said: "I am incredibly grateful for the energy and rigour that Nicholas Shott and his steering group have put into the local TV review.

"I am considering his report carefully, which gives us a solid foundation to take forward the necessary steps to bring about local TV in the UK. I will publish a plan early in the new year setting out those steps."

At the time the report was commissioned, in June, Mr Hunt said that the Government believed in localism and the enormous benefits of fostering local cultural, economic and political identities.

He set in train plans to reform local cross-media ownership rules and asking Ofcom to look at the case for removing all cross-media ownership rules at a local level and wanted options for supporting new local TV stations in towns and cities

"We are driving forward greater transparency at all levels of public life - and the challenge and scrutiny of local journalists is vital to that," added Mr Hunt.

"I want a modern regulatory environment which will help nurture a new generation of hungry, ambitious and profitable local media companies," he said, and appointed Nicholas Shott, Head of UK Investment Banking at Lazard, to conduct an independent commercial assessment of local TV.

(BMcC/GK)

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