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back to article Applications to run more white-space Local TV stations invited

Ofcom is looking for more aspiring telly barons, with another 28 Local TV franchises up for grabs along with the two that no-one wanted last time around. Those two are Swansea and Plymouth, but the other 19 Local TV channels from round one have been awarded and should be on air around the end of this year. Now, anyone who …

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Silver badge

Dear God

Is there not enough dire rubbish creating pointless electronic smog?

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Good News

I'm actually really glad that there is another run at this. I worked for a while at NorthantsTV, am NTL hosted local cable station, and we managed to get an RSL for Northamptonshire based on our output over cable, OFCOM gave us some good support.

Yes, what we put out was utter shite when you look at Sherlock or Doctor Who, but the difference was what we put out was local. People tuned in to see themselves or their friends on telly. Why do you think X-Factor and stuff like that are popular? "Ooh, might see my friend on Telly tonight"! It gets an audience!

NorthantsTV went down due to the fact that TV takes a HAUGE amount of money, and to provide a local news service cost a fortune, even with one camera ENG shoots. You can't have the news sponsored (under OFCOM rules, only the weather) so the news teams have to be paid from the general airtime budgets. You are restricted to the amount of adverts you can bumper around the news in any one hour, so that became a big drain.

I hope this time around, OFCOM will be more lenient on the amount of advertising time, or what can be sponsored, because if not, the money hoover that is local TV is never going to work in a small market like the UK.

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Paris Hilton

Why no bigger cities?

Surely Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool, Leeds,etc. would be more likely to work due to viewer figures and moe content providers.

I know that some of them have national TV departments based there, but the content produced is rarely actually local (just based in location x because of pretty scenery), and I imagine you could get some really great stuff out of their universities.

Paris, because they can always fall back on more 'mature' programming if things get dfficult.

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Boffin

Re: Why no bigger cities?

Those cities were part of phase 1, a programme supplier has already been selected, and they are due to launch over the next year. This is phase 2.

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FAIL

I always thought local TV was a Jeremy Hunt vanity project designed to take money and influence away from the BBC. Why not just scrap the silly idea and give the money to an established broadcaster with better resources on the condition that they use it for local TV? Returning ITV to regional identities and sometimes very different local schedules would be a start.

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FAIL

"I always thought local TV was a Jeremy Hunt vanity project designed to take money and influence away from the BBC. Why not just scrap the silly idea"

Why is it a silly idea? Its worked well in the US for decades and local radio is a success in the UK so whats your problem? Perhaps all local radio stations should be taken off air and the money handed to the BBC so they can broadcast more rubbish like 1Xtra?

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Stop

US definition of local != UK version of local

It may have worked in the US, but their local TV stations cover a much larger population and geography than the proposed UK ones

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Re: US definition of local != UK version of local

"It may have worked in the US, but their local TV stations cover a much larger population and geography than the proposed UK ones"

Not all of them. A local TV station in some midwest hick town will serve far fewer people than one serving say Birmingham. The physical size of the area covered is irrelevant - its the viewers that matter.

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Local radio has recently not been a success in this country, far too many stations were licensed with too little advertising money to go round. Then the disaster that is DAB came along and cost stations even more money with the carrot of automatic licence renewal to try and offset that. There hasn't been a single DAB only station that has made any money and Planet Rock is up for sale again, never having made any money. Global Radio paid well over the odds for GCap Media and then lobbied the government to allow them to merge loads of their local stations. They then cut the number of stations that they broadcast in half in what in the industry was seen as a way of drastically cutting their costs. They needed to do this because they had taken out a loan to buy the business and they had repayments that were rumoured to be quite high. I used to work in the industry and have knowledge of this.

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Re: US definition of local != UK version of local

Manchester had a local TV station for quite a while: Channel M. In the early days it did have quite a few "local" shows but they were generally pretty poor quality and suffered from the fashion of having moving backgrounds and constantly changing shots. During an interview it would often go out of focus, black and white, and zoom in on part of the interviewee's face. Even with the backing of the Guardian Media Group, it kept cutting back further and further until it showed almost nothing but Euronews. The latest round of franchises cover tiny areas: if Manchester and Salford can't generate enough revenue to be sustainable, how are Kidderminster or Basingstoke going to cope? Setting up a TV station with programming and playout facilities is very expensive so I think it would be better for an existing broadcaster to use the cash to improve their local services rather than a new one setting up shop, showing mostly QVC and eventually going bust. Doesn't have to be the BBC: this is what ITV was set up for in the first place.

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Bronze badge

OK, this is our last chance.

We must now all unite in our dream of bringing back topless darts.

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Anonymous Coward

Bands not used for existing broadcasts locally?

I don't know what will happen elsewhere but, here in Scotland, when the Gaelic language BBC Alba TV station is broadcasting, multiple BBC radio stations are suspended on Freeview.

Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, and 4 Extra all close down on Freeview for the evening, as do the Asian Network, Radio Scotland and the World Service.

Oh, and with delicious irony, we also lose Radio nan Gaidheal, the Gaelic language radio service.

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Re: Bands not used for existing broadcasts locally?

The BBC were required to get BBC Alba onto Freeview in Scotland, but weren't given any extra money to do so, nor allocated any more spectrum. That meant having to carry it on their SD multiplex, the second multiplex having switched to the incompatible second-generation DVB-T2 standard to make enough space for four or five HD services. (The BBC are required to carry STV HD and 4hd, and it was expected they would have to carry Channel 5 HD as well, until C5 pulled out yet again.)

So the choice was basically make picture quality terrible on all SD services while BBC Alba is running, or turn off the radio stations.

The local TV services have been granted a multiplex of their own, on frequencies that are generally close enough to the existing multiplexes that existing aerials should pick the up. The multiplex has space for the local TV service, and one or two extra slots that will be sold nationally by the multiplex operator Comux.

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WTF?

Whinging Cambridge

"Not everyone will be wishing them success: one of the cities up for grabs, Cambridge, is already filling its White Space with communication signals as it leads the world in development of the technology for different purposes. "

Tough. They should have liased with Ofcom first to find out any future plans instead of going it along. There's a reason we have a national communications office.

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Re: Whinging Cambridge

Cambridge's local TV service has had a frequency reserved for it which will not be available to white space devices. It is still considered a 'white space' because it isn't used to cover Cambridge from current TV services, but isn't available to run a full-power service as it would interfere. Cambridge is normally covered, for TV services, by the Sandy Heath transmitter in Bedfordshire: the local TV service will come from the Maddingley site formerly used by Channel 5, on UHF Channel 40. This frequency is, or soon will be, used by the Welwyn relay and three relays near High Wycombe, so is unavailable at Sandy Heath.

Regarding white space devices, a BBC/Arqiva joint report for Ofcom basically says that the TV spectrum is so densely used that only about a quarter of UK households could use a white space networking device. This will drop to only 3% if the 700 MHz band is reallocated to mobile phone networks and the TV spectrum is replanned, which Ofcom seem keen on doing in around 2018. See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uhf-strategy/statement/BBC_Arqiva_preliminary.pdf for the report. I'm counting scenario 3 - where the 600 MHz band is used by two new TV multiplexes from 25 sites - as this is the model Ofcom subsequently chose from that consultation.

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Barnstaple? ha!! We don't even have a local office for ITV here any more!

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Pirate

This got me thinking, has anyone ever tried pirate TV?

I'm not sure if pirate radio is still a big thing in London, but it's possible someone already involved in dodgy radio might try switching to TV.

I'm aware the kit for broadcasting a digital UHF signal is probably completely different to that required for analogue VHF, but is there any reason it can't be done?

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Headmaster

@S4qFBxkFFg Bronze badge

"This got me thinking, has anyone ever tried pirate TV?"

I think it has been done once or twice but its technically lot easier (equipment, TX power requirements and finding spare bandwidth) and cheaper to set up a pirate radio station plus any band they want to play will be available on audio but probably won't have a video to go with it so what do you show on screen?

Also everyone understands FM frequencies whereas UHF channel numbers are meaningless to 99% of the population who probably wouldn't be able to find it on their TV. And of course nowadays with only digital TV, setting up a pirate multiplex would be way beyond the abilities of your average pirate operator and even if they managed it they'd stick out like a sore thumb and would probably be shut down within 24 hours.

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