The UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has released a map of 65 potential new ‘hyper-local’ television stations that could operate in the UK. The Government expects that most big cities, as well as towns such as Haverfordwest, Barnstaple and Poole, could viably host local TV.
Local television has been a long-term Conservative Party goal, but who is going to pay for it? Government cuts and a growing budget deficit make decent state funding near impossible.
Based on a report that he commissioned, Hunt believes that the stations will get by on as little at £10,000 in weekly advertising revenues, provided they can keep their costs below £500,000, by limiting content to around one and a half hours per day.
But Mark Dodson, who used to run the Guardian’s Manchester-based Channel M, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday that he was “deeply disappointed” by the proposals. He accused the culture secretary of reducing costs by “reducing ambition to a point where it becomes meaningless”, and questioned the assertion that £500,000 could be raised in advertising revenue from such a meagre amount of content.
Dodson also bemoaned the lack of plans for a measurement tool, as there is no real way for such TV stations (as opposed to national TV channels) to measure audiences, unlike local radio (RAJAR) and local newspapers (JICREG).