Friday, 7 October 2011

A View To Local TV

#rdgnews - While parts of Berkshire completed the switch-over from analogue to fully-digital television on 28th September the government is moving forward with plans to liberalise broadcast media coverage across the country with a strategy for decentralising production and opening up ownership to new companies - and Reading has been identified by the DCMS as one of the 65 potential locations to be licensed.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP said, "I want people to be able to watch television that's truly relevant to them, about what’s happening where they live and featuring the people they know."

He spoke of a 'huge appetite' for local news and information which could be "a fundamental change in how people get information about their own communities, and how they hold their representatives to account."

According to media sources, the development will be supported by the £40m annual 'digital innovation fund' created from cuts announced yesterday as part of a wider strategy to reshape the BBC and open up the media sector to wider competition, although this remains subject to two separate BBC reviews as well as the official consultation process.

However media consultant Lin Glover noted this amounted to a 'volte-face' from Mr Hunt under pressure from industry experts and coalition partners, who was widely known to personally favour a new national network over a national broadcasting 'spine' of local operators. Although the financial dividend to the Treasury from the sale of more smaller license packages is expected to increase substantially questions remain over the scope for mergers between license-holders intent on creating a quasi-network.

Ofcom is also inviting tenders from technical companies to form MuxCo to oversee the allocation and maintenance of geographic interleaved (GI) spectrum freed up as part of the digital switch-over, with the first tranche of triple-stream multiplex stations due to go live in their areas during the second-half of 2012.

Meanwhile in separate news View TV Group has announced that it has selected Reading as one of it's first locations among an ambitious 660 town roll-out for channels dedicated to their locality, and "will join Nottingham, Luton and various [s]easide towns across the country."

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More stories on the local media environment

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