Is local TV heading for an online or co-operative future?
by Mark Smith
The broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, has just published a report that looks into the different technical options for broadcasting local, commercially-viable, television to some of the major towns and cities in the UK.
Before the coalition government was formed in Westminster, a batch of new local television news providers was chosen to pilot different services around the country, including those currently delivered by ITV Wales News. However, the arrival of the Conservative/Lib-Dem administration led to those plans being shelved.
It’s now believed that the Conservatives, in particular, favour hyper-local television, with plans for stations to be run in Cardiff and Swansea, among many other locations. The report has thrown up two interesting points for me:
- As broadband is listed as one of the options for delivering the hyper-local stations, what can be done to ensure the number of possible viewers is maximised? If people can’t access the service, what’s the point of delivering it?
- With all the talk of the ‘Big Society’ and ‘citizen journalists’ coming at a time when the BBC and ITV are continuing to make significant cuts, is the door open for a more ethical alternative in sustaining such businesses? What about the stations being run by media co-operatives, with a lot of input from communities? I know the report doesn’t look into ownership structures, but it’s something that I feel is worth giving serious consideration to by the powers-that-be.