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Ofcom invites bids to run London TV channel and 20 other UK stations

Thursday, May 10, 2012
12:54 PM

Tenders are being invited today to run the new London TV franchise and 20 other local stations across the country planned by the government.

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The bidding opened this-morning with an announcement from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt for potential operators to apply for licences to run the new services.

“I hope to see some exciting bids for new TV channels,” said Mr Hunt. “Local TV will create jobs and also provide communities with news and content that is relevant to their daily lives.”

But leading figures from the broadcasting industry fear the London station won’t reach every household if it is allocated just one slot on Freeview on medium power, which they say would be affected by reception blackspots.

Potential bidders like the Channel 6 Group argue that a London station—unlike the other 20 dotted around the UK—needs satellite and cable outlets as part of the franchise to reach all five million households.

Potential operators have until August 13 to apply to Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, for a licence.

The franchise would be awarded based on criteria including local news and current affairs, programme schedules, planned launch date and viability of the business plan.

But the industry has been calling for Ofcom to use its powers to put the London franchise on satellite which would add another £1 million a year to business plans, which the Channel 6 consortium says must be budgeted for when the tenders are invited.

The first 21 areas were selected by Ofcom for having sufficient levels of interest from potential operators and being technically capable of receiving a local TV service.

London would be the flagship. Others in the south are Norwich, Brighton, Southampton, Bristol, Oxford and Plymouth.

Those in the rest of the UK are Belfast, Cardiff, Swansea, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Preston and Sheffield.

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