Ofcom’s local TV options
September 22, 2010
Ofcom says the Government has made clear that establishing Local TV in the UK is a policy priority and has set up the Shott enquiry to examine what conditions might be necessary to make Local TV commercially viable.
Following discussions with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Nicholas Shott and his team, it has issued a this report on the technical options for introducing local television services across the UK. The report provides a comparison of the benefits and costs of using the different platforms: terrestrial, satellite, cable and via broadband. Each platform offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages for carrying local television services.
This report does not consider how spectrum or existing capacity could be secured for local television. It is for government to decide how, if at all, to intervene to secure spectrum resources or multiplex capacity for local television or to rely upon commercial mechanisms.
In summary the report says the choice of which approach is most appropriate will depend upon the objectives for the local service including considerations such as:
- Localness- the number of separate locations that are intended to receive local television services and their size;
- Delivery – how well those areas align with the boundaries inherent in the various platforms (for example with existing transmitter coverage patterns);
- Coverage – the level of coverage required (for example the proportion of households in the target area or as a proportion of the UK that should be able to receive the local services); and
- Economics the cost of presence on a platform and supporting business model
As many of the above are yet to be determined, we have for the purposes of this study considered how local television could be delivered to the most populous urban areas in the UK as it seems likely that economic drivers for local television will be most favourable in those areas. Ofcom have proposed as a starting point an indicative list of twenty five urban areas including the four UK nations capital cities and twenty one of the largest urban areas and carried out a comparison of the various approaches to providing local television services in those areas.
Each platform presents opportunities and also constraints: