Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has welcomed the November 26th afternoon of launch of the UK’s first local TV channel – Estuary TV- in the northern coastal town of Grimsby. She said that local television was an important part of a connected society. “Viewers consistently say they want local TV services grounded in their communities – and the new network which we have commissioned seeks to address this gap,” she said in a message to a launch event in London.
She added that Comux UK, the community-owned business selected by regulator Ofcom to build, operate and manage the local TV multiplex, had done “an excellent job” to get to the launch of the first channel. “As more and more local TV channels go live across the country, I look forward to seeing the excitement they cause and impact they have on local communities.”
Ed Hall, Comux UK’s CEO, said that previous attempts at local TV had failed for three main reasons: they were broadcasting on restrictive analogue frequencies; were attempting ad sales without recognised viewing figures, and were faced with significant start-up costs.
“Digital switch-over has changed that,” he suggested. “You can now have a huge number of channels on the same bandwidth and the cost of equipment is much lower.”
With Comux UK building and operating a national infrastructure, Hall said that new services no longer have to find significant sums prior to launch, with its business model creating revenues to help underpin local TV. “Next year, many more stations will join,” he predicted.