Westminster Rales Against Hunt’s Local TV Vision

Hardly anyone thinks culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has got his recipe right for UK local TV and IPTV channels. Panelists at Wednesday’s Westminster Media Forum, a discussion event supported by parliament, lined up to unload their scepticism…

Claire Enders, Enders Analysis

“Some of these unanswered questions remain very, very significant … The model was built by Lazard and based on assumptions about spectrum availability.

“Television is is a much more expensive medium to put together … news is a very expensive proposition.

“(Local services) have to exist at a very enthusiastic and active level of engagement … there is a growing localness in the local media space – these are not economic models, but they’re not vanity projects either.”

John Fry, CEO, Johnston Press

“The (local newspaper) industry (already) has more than 40 million readers per week and 37 million digital readers per month. We employ over 10,000 journalists…
it’s considerably more detailed than the TV proposal.

“TV today is … extremely rigid and inflexible … When delivered by the web, consumers are prepared to accept lower quality – but the economics of television make it hard to deliver a quality service to viewers … DTT (Freeview) is really quite unsatisfactory due to its rigidity. I do believe that, in the long-term IPTV will be (the best option).

“(In a cross-media JV), I fear the broadcast partner would become dominant, taking most of the revenue.

“The current television model is a top-down model driven by spectrum availability and political process. Until many of us have IPTV, you don’t really change that. That will free up the market for us to experiment in a way that the market does not allow.”

“Advertising has shifted on us. We peaked in 2004 and it’s been classified advertising that has shifted to a different way of delivering. Anything with a listing and sorting has shifted online.”

Adam Foley, communications strategy director, Starcom MediaVest

It will cannibalise existing revenues from existing media and the TV budget. I can’t see how it would add any incremental revenues whatsoever.

Mark Oliver, CEO, Oliver & Ohlbaum

“i don’t think anybody’s pretending it’s going to make people. Nor do Football League clubs. But they exist. That’s probably what the government’s getting at.

“The money will come from other media and will be mostly located in the biggest urbam areas.

“How good can it be? Or, more relevantly, how bad can it be? … You’ll just get ITV (again).

“I’m not sure local tTV will be profitable and I don’t think the cross-subsidy model suggested by (Nicholas) Shott works.”

Fred Perkins, Information TV

“It’s got a couple of very serious flaws in the assumptions he’s making … big bang top-down (has) serious dangers…

“I believe local channels should be niche channels. The great thing about what’s happening around the web is that niche TV channels are developing and they can be sustained. All they need from television is visibility. A model from modest beginnings, bottom-up can deliver properly to its stakeholders.

“Niche television isn’t about quality, it’s about fitness for purpose. The mindset of a national channel is totally opposed to wat you want for a niche channel. Let it start now and shape itself as it develops in many way.”

“The flaw is, people try to do to much too quickly. You don’t need a national channel that is purely ratings-obsessed … The idea (is) of reincarnating regional ITV.”

Richard Horwood, CEO, Channel 6

“(We) should have a programming budget at least as big as Channel 5’s to justify its existence.

“A lot of support is needed from the national network in order to make the local service valuable … the national networks needs to buy equipment on behalf of (their) local affiliates.

“(We would give) a share of the TV network’s profits and the promotion of (affiliates’) other products through the television medium (to affiliates) – it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”

“Only non-commercial publishing should be subsidised … We reckon we’d be increasing the independent production sector outside of London by a third.”

Keith Smith, deputy director, media, Department for Culture, Media & Sport

“Jeremy Hunt clearly gets it… the Big Society is all about local communities speaking and acting for themselves. Local media has a crucial role to play in communicating those ideas, helping to pull down power and giving people the power they need to make choices in their community.

“Even when IPTV becomes widely available, local TV services would take time to develop … it might be well in to the new decade or even the end of the new decade before a sustainable IPTV model is around … IPTV will allow many more communities to be served at lower cost.

“Essentially Jeremy Hunt’s idea is a commercial proposition. I’m not sure I have anything to add to that.”


“The great shock conclusion is to recreate ITV (LSE: ITV). Frankly, I’m speechless – this is dead in the water.”


“To concentrate our efforts to a rebirth of ITV which can only be carried to 10 to 12 locations and which …

“We have a delivery sstem, it’s called the internet. It works perfectly well. To take it back to the one-way street of television seems, to me, to be retrospect.”

Steve Anderson, executive producer, Mentorn

“All this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere! Problems, problems, problems, manure, manure, manure.

“The technological revolution seems to have passed by Jeremy Hunt.”

Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism, City University

“To develop IPTV is much more valuable and much more likely. Localism coming from the current news providers is much more likely to occur. We have local news organisations – lets get behind them

“Online remains the future. There is massive participation online between the community and the news organisations

“The only possible advertising to support (the local TV channels) would cannibalise that on local newspapers and radio.

“It will fail because it hasn’t come from the bottom up.”


“It will be a hideous Channel 5/local newspaper mutant half-breed.”