The success of Hunt’s local TV 

9 August 2014

The story so far…

(Now ex) Culture Minister Jeremy Hunt decides Britain needs local TV. Britain needs this despite the fact that pretty much every attempt at local TV in Britain has been an abject failure, from Swindon Cable and Live TV, through to Six TV and Channel One.

After Hunt’s announcement, the largest local TV operator, Manchester’s Channel M, closes its doors. It’s owners, the Guardian Media Group, can see no way of operating a commercially viable service even with the new proposed local TV network.

Still, Mr Hunt is undeterred despite the fact that almost everyone thinks the idea is completely bonkers. Enough fools (and their money) are, however, persuaded to go for it.

Some, ye gods, even manage to launch! Viewers can enjoy STV Glasgow (in, err, Glasgow), Mustard TV in Norwich and London Live in, well, I’ll give you a clue. It’s not Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

If you read the national press you’ll probably be pretty oblivious to most of the currently active local TV stations. If you’re lucky you’ll have heard of London Live because, well, it’s in London isn’t it, and that’s important. Plus its backed by the Russian owner of the Evening Standard and Independent newspapers.

That said, London’s local TV station is actually a massive test case for the local TV concept. The capital is the largest city in the UK. With a population of 8m people comes the potential for a large viewership. If local TV in London fails, then you have to ask what hope there is for Norwich and Oxford. So all eyes have been on London.

And it has been so successful since launch at the end of March, that London Live’s applying to slash the amount of locally produced TV it puts out in primetime.

But that’s nothing at all compared to what’s just happened in Birmingham where they’ve gone better. For their local TV station has just gone bust without even having launched.

With just months to go before launch, the operation hadn’t even managed to get studios or buy any broadcast equipment.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help to see what happens next with Hunt’s wonderful creation.

You Say

5 responses to this article

Sean C 9 August 2014 at 10:13 pm

Well, I’ve been waiting for the Brighton local TV service and I’ve seen ne’er hide nor test card of it, thus far.

Rob Williams 10 August 2014 at 1:13 am

It is telling that Esther Ranzen is poking her nose into loads of bids for these stations.

Plus also the bids are also backed by the man who owned Six TV as well.

Learning from their mistakes? I don’t think so, that they willing to make those same mistakes again seems like a viable plan.

Andrew Bowden 10 August 2014 at 9:43 am

“Yes Dave, I know it didn’t work in the past. But this time it will be different!”

Jeremy Rogers 11 August 2014 at 3:21 pm

Hunt’s concept was for local opt-outs for a national station. Chance missed for a radical re-purposing of Channel 4.

This is very much a re-run of the low rent piecemeal process for the analogue RSLs, ie stations set up with little publicity on weak signals requiring retuning by the potential viewer. Sensible planning would have co-ordinated this with switchover.

Mike Brailing 8 January 2015 at 1:54 pm

I can’t see how they will possibly be economic even with the much more significant potential audiences promised by a dedicated Freeview channel and carriage on cable and satellite platforms.

I’ve watched some ‘Made in Bristol’ and the output is as dire as the RSL-type community stations of a few years ago with about 90 minutes of originally (but cheaply) produced local content stretched out and repeated over 24 hours.

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