Monday, 24 January 2011

Local TV news coming to a city near you


That font of considered comment, Twitter, reacted fairly negatively to Culture and Media Secretary Jeremy Hunt's plans to make hyperlocal TV a reality.

Despite the the fact that the announcement came from Mr Hunt, I do think it's a good idea.

The plan could see local TV stations set up initially in the major cities. Ten to 20 is the government's initial target.

Despite having been hit by a whopping great funding cut by the Tory-Lib Dem government, the BBC have confirmed they will fork out up to £25million for the start-up costs.

Now, as long as the plans don't damage the BBC - and I accept this government has already done that through the cuts - and the £25m is money that could be spent elsewhere on BBC services - I would like to see hyperlocal TV news.

I love the news. I love the BBC News Channel. I love the BBC. [Between you and me, I even love Sky News - don't tell anyone.] But how many times have we heard the complaint that there's far too much Manchester focus on BBC North West Tonight?

So what better solution than to turn the news hyperlocal?

Remember Channel One Liverpool? Don't get mixed up with the Channel One which dedicates itself to all things Star Trek (nothing wrong with that!).

Channel One Liverpool was a ground breaking TV station which was run and operated by Trinity Mirror from its Old Hall Street office, an office which it shared with the Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Daily Post. It was available on cable and the quality was good.

Unfortunately, because it was so ahead of its time, Channel One Liverpool wasn't bringing in the revenue. The cable audience simply wasn't there and neither were the advertisers. So the plug was pulled.

On the back of Jeremy Hunt's announcement, this decision would now appear to be a little premature.

But that will hopefully not be the end of local and regional news'paper' companies' foray into TV. Regional news organisations have each built up a weath of skilled video journalists who are producing content for the websites - a number of whom have been snapped up by the broadcast big boys.

Over in Manchester, the MEN had its own Channel M station which sadly became a victim of the downturn.

There is clearly a will, but as yet there hasn't been a way for hyperlocal TV. What's required is for Jeremy Hunt to put our money where his mouth is.

Perhaps then we may see the hyperlocal relevant news on TV which consists of more than just 15 minutes of news from Manchester followed by 15 minutes of inane waffle.

Now that's got to be a little extra on the licence fee.


Read more from PressGazetter.co.uk here [I warn you now, scroll down fast to the text - DO NOT look into the eyes].
And read an interesting viewers' discussion on an old forum on the pros of Channel One Liverpool here.

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