Channel M Gets On Freeview; Digital Dividend A Boon For Local TV?

GMG’s Manchester metropolitan TV operator Channel M, which until now has only been carried on Sky, Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) and analogue terrestrial, has been awarded a digital terrestrial slot in the city. It will start broadcasting on so-called “interleaved spectrum” that will be freed up in the digital dividend, the switching off of analogue TV spectrum, later this year. Cardiff will be the next area to see an interleaved spectrum award this month. Release.

Ofcom’s digital dividend is hotly contested by TV, mobile, radio and other operators keen for a slice of new transmission capability. If Channel M’s award is anything to go by, the process could tie neatly with Ofcom’s recent public service review, which, responding to ITV’s shrinking commitment, also called for an “alternative” model for news in nations and regions. The review wants to see “independently funded consortia” bid for between £30 million and £50 million per year to provide news either through ITV (LSE: ITV), C4 or some other digital platform.

But, as BBC News reports, Ofcom has just made a switch may may mean fewer opportunities for local TV operators after all: “Originally Ofcom promised to safeguard spectrum in the 800Mhz band for wireless microphones and digital terrestrial TV services. Now it proposes to make the whole 800MHz band available for mobile broadband and related services and to find ‘alternative spectrum’ for wireless microphones and digital terrestrial TV.”