back to article Beeb to fund ad-mungous Local TV for local people

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Fun Stuff, has proposed filling white space spectrum with Local TV, and the BBC will chip in £40m to help make it viable. The plan calls for a new company to manage a new multiplex, squeezed into 8MHz of white space (locally unused) spectrum and built using £25m of BBC cash. Local TV …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Never mind the quality

    feel the bandwidth.

    If the beeb have the odd £40 mil of our money just sitting around, why do they think spending it on an experimental local service is better for us licence fee payers, than using it to make some higher quality programmes for it's existing 9 TV channels?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Don't blame the BBC.

      This is JeremyHuntTheCultureSecretary using the BBC as a piggybank again. Or, rather, the current level of BBC licence fee being used as intended, to develop digital television.

      Telly is expensive; something like The One Show probably gets through 40 million quid in a week. Or something.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Why isn't Jeremy Hunt's best friend at BSkyB being tapped to help fund the service from his massive tax-free income?

        Oh right, I forgot, Jeremy will need a job when his glittering ministerial career comes to an end.

      2. ViewTVGroup

        Real Costs

        I would say that the One show probebly gets through a couple of million a month, but the audience is large, there is no reason why local tv cannot have national programming in the same way, £2m per month across 50 areas is £40,000 a month per town.... cheaper than anything on any other channel.

  2. teapot9999
    Thumb Down


    Does anyone want local TV? Local news is a waste of time, and who wants to want low-budget amateur programs?

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      low-budget amateur programs

      Oooo oooo oooo. I feel an Internet solution coming on.

      Let's put up a site where you could upload sad/log budget amateur programs for absolutely anyone to ignore at their fullest convenience.

      You could call it something like, say, You Tube.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      As ITV's regional news areas get ever larger (The West now reaches from the Isles of Scilly to somewhere near Gloucester), to offset the cost of programming, Jeremy Hunt is trying to reverse the process by sucking money out of the BBC. He really is a useless spoonerism isn't he?

    3. ViewTVGroup


      I think a lot of people have devalued the trials such as Oxbox TV and Bath TV, but if it is mangaed from the top down it will work very well in deed as it will be covered by normal ruling.

      Do not judge before you have seen it, it would be no different from your local bbc programming that appears on your television screens every weekday evening

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "mangaed from the top down"? Feels like it.

        If it "would be no different from your local bbc programming that appears on your television screens every weekday evening" why waste money on pointless duplication?

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    two hours of reasonably low cost but high quality content a day

    Can no-one in the DCM do maths? Five million quid a year, for *all* local broadcasts? That might pay, if you're lucky, for perhaps fifty people of reasonable broadcast competence. And this is intended for prime time broadcast in major cities? Dream on, dear hearts, dream on...

    Congratulations, Mr Hunt: you have just authorised wall to wall advertising on channels full of product placement, games shows, and if you're lucky, five minutes of local news at the top of the hour. And the backhaul paid for by the Beeb.

    Hell, even the twenty-five million up front isn't going to buy much in the way of premises or capital plant - but never mind, perhaps they can make do with the second hand stuff other broadcasters are throwing out?

    Thanks a bundle. Welcome to the audio-video equivalent of the freebie newspaper.

    1. IsJustabloke

      I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

      calm down dear...

      You'll be free to treat this in exactly the same way as the free newspaper that pops through your letterbox every week.

      I agree with the chap who said if teh beeb have 40 mil laying about I'd rather they produced a couple of high class docs than spend it in this way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Free Paper?

        "You'll be free to treat this in exactly the same way as the free newspaper that pops through your letterbox every week."

        Never heard of such a thing. What's that all about then.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      As a comparison: BBC Alba

      BBC Alba is a channel on a shoestring budget -- and at launch this was £14 million. If I recall correctly, that 14 million paid for: satellite bandwidth; listing on the Sky EPG; listing on the Freesat EPG; 2.5 hours of news content weekly; 2.5 hours of original non-news content weekly.

      The budget has now increased slightly, but only in order to pay for the Freeview bandwidth. 5 million -- I suspect that this is calculated on the market rate of bandwidth costs alone, but who receives the bandwidth cash? Her Majesty's Chancellor of the Exchequer.

      So it's a zero cost that they can claim is 5mill in "opportunity cost" (from not being able to sell the whitespace), but then it will increase the value of other whitespace licenses through scarcity, and besides, most whitespace use will be unlicensed networking because the regional patchwork of frequencies makes whitespace fairly impractical for anything other than a longer-range-than-usual WLAN.

      1. ViewTVGroup

        A little excess

        I think your figures are quite far out and remember this can have a supporting revenue model,

        Jamie Branson

  4. phear46

    point being?

    If you want to watch more tv just get sky. Who really cares about local tv? Look east is fine for the news around here. Stop filling the space with crap and try to put it to good use with a data network, we are already struggling for bandwidth as it is. Jeremy hunt is a right.... well, you know

  5. Robert E A Harvey

    Oh, really?

    And just where is this advertising revenue going to come from?

    Memories of the local cinema displaying a generic picture of an Indian meal with "Shah's salmonella palace, station approach, Little Slumdewlling" stencilled into the white space on the top.

    1. ViewTVGroup


      Revenue for regional is very helpful for communications, if you took Birmingham for instance, West Midland Safari Park waste money putting there adverts on ITV at 10 times the cost of putting it on local tv and the same with most other attractions. Goverment campaigns are paying some £50m per month for fasten your seat belt and cross the road safely campaigns.

      There is a revenue model here, I have met 19 parties trying to do local tv and all of them are lifestyle junkies, this is not about television it is about local communications.

  6. dotdavid

    Consumption of local news

    "Apparently, today, ninety per cent of us regularly consume local news of some sort,"

    Oh yes. Sometimes I accidently read a few sentences of our local rag while I'm transporting it to the recycling bin where it lives, and find out that Mrs Smith has lost her cat again and some local oiks have sprayed graffiti on a derilict local pub.

    Engaging it is not. Plus the quality of the letters page makes me wonder whether the schools around here are that good after all...

    1. JB

      Not quite

      You're sort of right. Local rags seem to be about 10 pages of charity appeals, stories about sick kiddies or a late lamented local characters (usually a family man - if you don't have kids, you're worthless in the local journalism world). You might have a big photo of an old man trying to look sad outside a shuttered local post office, or some school kids holding up bits of fruit to publicise a healthy eating campaign. And then, on the page between all this and the dwindling number of classifieds, is a little strip down the side of the left-hand page with a few stories of real local interest.

      Just imagine all that on television, what a waste of energy! If I want drossy local content (and I don't) I'll go to YouTube, thanks.

    2. ViewTVGroup

      I think your judging a larger process on you..

      I think you are judging the process too harshly, I do not have kids and so therefore do not use schools, but I support that schools are required.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New York Cable

    On the positive side I seem to recall in its early years C4 had a fairly amusing program made up of clips from the utterly weird programs that were broadcast on the community access channel in New York .... think things like pron movies staring Barbie and Ken dolls .... Hmm - perhaps that Reg PlayMobil team need to put a bid in for a channel where consisting of 100% Playmobil reconstructions!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Oh, really?

    For the full Indian Restaurant Cinema advert experience the picture of generic Indian meal with local restaurant name stencilled on top had to be preceded by ~10 secs of film including a shot panning across the Taj Mahal and an airplane (pref Air india) either taking off or landing with the voiceover "you don't have to fly to India to enjoy fine Indian food"

    1. Graham Marsden

      Dont forget...

      ... the slightly dodgy colour rendition on the picture, the shot of hideous 1970's flock wall paper and some tinny background music...

  9. Ross 12

    Oh dear

    This will make youtube look like high-production-value quality programming. Just wait for TV versions of those cringe-worthy local radio ads

  10. Dave Murray

    What a Hunt

    This is really the last thing we need. Local newspapers are full of even more drivel than the celebrity obsessed nationals. The commercial TV stations in the UK are struggling to survive on advertising revenue so what makes this Hunt think there is enough advertising spend in the market to support a plethora of new local stations? BBC3's terrible programming gets repeated the same night it's shown, then another 2 or 3 times the same week. So how can they afford to splash around £40m on this hair brained scheme?

    The government should be saving money and reducing the BBC's licence fee if it has that much spare cash and not spending it on useless bollox that no one wants or needs.

  11. Gulfie


    Why bother? Seriously. I have 40+ free to air channels on my TV and I watch maybe half a dozen of them - sporadically. Who is going to watch this stuff? Why are we doing this? This is just adding to the "long tail" in broadcasting.

    Presumably central government will be collecting some revenue on the back of this? I can't see any other reason to bother.

  12. Joel 1
    Thumb Down

    Waste of bits....

    It is possible to put all the content on a YouTube channel, advertise that link, and let people connect to it over the internet. You could even utilise that white space to provide a means of accessing the internet. Why waste the bandwidth broadcasting to all and sundry for a niche market? Chances are, you are going to limit the audience by broadcasting at the wrong time, and also limit the audience by providing no access to interested people who have moved away, but like to keep up.

    These days, TVs are moving towards being internet connected with a means of accessing YouTube. Promote the channel, and keep the bandwidth for something more useful.

  13. Andy 97
    Thumb Down

    As if ANYONE would ever watch it.

    As someone that's actually started and run a radio station I can say with authority, people are not going to tune in just because it's local.

    My local opt in Oxford is barely watchable now and that's with BBC cash.

    Suddenly some of the minority channels on $ky become very appealing. Oh, and imagine the bun fight getting the franchise.

  14. Chad H.


    Local TV franchises backed up by a national network and selected by beauty contests.... I'm sure there used to be a word for that...

    Oh yeah, ITV. Good to see though the Tories for once undoing done of Maggies damage, but I fear it won't bring Thames back...Daaaah-Daaah-Dah Daaah Da da da.

    1. Hardcastle the ancient


      I saw their solid silver knight on display in Norwich Castle.

      Ye glods, its bad enough seeing my childhood toys in museums, but when it is things from the time I was bringing up my old kids it really does make me feel old!

    2. ViewTVGroup

      I agree

      I agree, if it handled by a committee of life style junkies it is ballsed from day one, but I am campaigning to get it controlled as any other franchise with spend and revenue monetoring with the local community on the board of directors.

  15. Solomon Grundy
    Black Helicopters


    MuxCo sounds like some kind of mule health supplement. 'Down in the withers? MuxCo will get you back in front of the plow'.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Why don't you...

    Many moons ago, Sheffield had a cable TV service before Telewest/Virgin (delete where applicable) started digging the pavements up. They used to do what the good Mr Hunt is proposing and it was.. rubbish. Admitted it was still B&W at the time (yes I'm showing my age) but all the new version will be is the same thing but in colour filmed by some PFY with cheap DV cam.

    If the govt want to spend that much cash that we've already paid to the BBC ostensibly for TV programs and use up valuable radio spectrum at the same time, why don't they create city wide wi-fi networks we can use so we don't have to pay through the nose to BT for landlines?

    Oh wait, can't do that as we might not get directorships when we've had enough of feeding off the state as a politician.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Swindon Viewpoint

      In Swindon we used to have our own local telly as well, called Swindon Viewpoint (later renamed to Swindon Cable) and it was shit as well. Anyone else see a pattern forming here?

      Have a look at to see what I mean.

  17. Wize

    In Scotland we have local TV...

    ...and its shit.

    Instead of ITV, we have STV. Its not your normal local region that steps in when it comes to local news. They replace programs all the time. And with poor substitutes.

    Most weekday evening programs are replaced. No HD or +1 on Sky.

    On the plus side, we don't get all the football matches shown down south (though some would argue the other side on that point)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy answer

    Given that TV is essentially "chewing gum for the eyes" and leads to disaster-porn like Big Brother, save your money, join White Dot and bin your TV. The Mr Hunt can piss off an play with the TV execs without wasting too much of my tax money!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tax Money?

      If you don't have a TV then you don't pay a licence fee (yet). And this is being funded from the licence fee. So what are you on about?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "the company judged most able to provide the service will get the bandwidth, rather than the highest bidder"

    The whole thing sounds like an enormouse waste of £40m, but the beauty contest is even worse. On what criteria are they going to judge who is most able to provide the service? Another thought, however, is whether or not they've bothered asking anybody if they want this service? £40m seems quite a lot to pay for a service that nobody is going to use.

    1. Chad H.

      It worked in the past...

      That was the way ITV originally worked. You put in a bid comprising of a bit of cash, and what you'd actually do with the broadcast space, and if you had a strategy that looked like... I dunno, ITV today, you didn't win.

  20. Simon B

    you mean built with OUR cash.

    ' ... and built using £25m of BBC cash' - Don't you mean OUR cash? the money we uk tv citizens are forced to pay you regardelss of whether we want BBC!!!

  21. Citizen Kaned

    i wonder...

    if lincolnshire will get its own TV programmes then. since on old analogue TV we got look north, that never really mentioned lincolnshire and now on virgin the default is east midlands today, that dont like lincolnshire either.

    seriously pissed off the tv tax (which is what it is) is going to funding more useless shite. if they have 40mil to waste why not lower the tax?

  22. LinkOfHyrule


    I live in Surrey as dose My Hunt - I dread to think what Surrey TV would be like!

  23. Kay Burley ate my hamster


    Oi cHunt we dont need more broadcast services!!! Forget Local TV, Forget DAB, this can and should be delivered over TCP/IP using the digital dividend.

  24. Martin Howe

    If only it will be like local free ad papers

    Free ad papers are usually local to a district or a small chunk of a county. Local TV tends to focus on a whole county or even several counties. Local TV that is as local as the free ad papers would be great; however, I can imaging it being almost impossible to fund, so it likely won't happen.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Waste of space

    If there's a spare DTT 8MHz high numbered TV channel frequency available in 60% of areas, give us more proper TV please!

    I notice they say 3 TV streams, which implies HD because our local HD multiplex carries 3 only (BBC1 HD, BBC HD, Ch4) and that's probably about the bitstream bandwidth limit for HD in one frequency channel multiplex. We don't even get ITV or Five here in HD. And what's the point having two BBC HD streams AS WELL AS standard def versions of BBC1 and BBC2 on another multiplex? What a waste of airspace! Just give us BBC1 and BBC2 in HD, use the two freed up SD channels for some other choice, and let those without an HD box upgrade already!

    1. Wize


      What about all those with built in tuners? I'd have to get a plug in box or a new TV.

      And I don't even have HD freeview in my area to start with.

  26. Mike Brown

    i may be in the minority but....

    I quite like the idea. Local colleges and schools could have a couple of hours a day, to enable TV and media students some real TV time. These same students could make adverts.

  27. J.G.Harston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Title goes here

    What's wrong with the current BBC1 with Look North at 6:30?

  28. ViewTVGroup

    It is all in line for a possible success

    It is all in line for a possible success , anyone can produce television well with the right budgets, the whole key to this is the revenue model. If you read the details of the document, the BBC is paying for the point of transmission with a cost to each local station being up to £100,000 per annum.

    The key to this is not to forget online, mobile and print in the proposition, this is not a tv channel it is a local communication hub, but freeview at best can only get to county level on a single channel per transmitter, so internet propositions in a bbc iplayer style will work every time.

    Taking out the failing, Thompson Local and various other over priced rubbish will aid the revenues to be around again, but do not get me wrong, this should be all about "local business", "local commerce growth" and "local communication" not a lifestyle business for 20 wannabie tv people.

    Follow me @jamiebranson and check out

  29. Anonymous Coward

    The money

    would be better spent on the BBC World Service (which is apparently *too* objective for some of the people who always had time for Mr Murdoch!)

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