Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media Olympics and Sport, has hinted that the future for local TV in the UK is likely to be on the basis of a number of individual licensees, with IP the delivery format.
Hunt told members of the Broadcasting Press Guild that he was confident the government could deliver a “really exciting revolution in TV viewing. And we want to create an environment for a whole new sector that we haven’t had in this country before.”
Hunt said he had examined two routes: a new national station with lots of local affiliates; the other a more ‘bottom-up’ route where you would auction 30, 40 50 or so individual licences and if people wanted to form their own network, they could.
“At the moment, we’re veering towards the latter,” he revealed, saying that a final decision hadn’t been taken. “Our biggest priority in this is to create a sector that is financially sustainable in the long term. We want try and create a structure which minimises the risk of investors investing in new local TV services, and then finding that they are not able to continue.”
He said that if you have a new national channel, the challenge is that the ‘spine’ that would provide national broadcasting during the daytime and peak hours was going to be viable and that if that were to collapse, it wouldn’t pull down the local affiliates with it.
In terms of a delivery model, Hunt said there was “no doubt” the long-term future of local TV was IPTV. “That is very exciting because you would potentially have zero broadcast transmission costs and “well within this parliament,” i.e., before the end of 2015. ” We are really committed to this. It’s my top priority in terms of the creative industries at the moment,” he declared.