Inclusive's CEO Nigel Dacre, who is also Chair of the Local TV Network (LTVN), delivered a speech on the growth and potential for local television in the UK.
Nigel is the Director of local television channel Notts TV, which is part owned by LDN - a subisdiary of Inclusive Digital.
Addressing the Edinburgh Television Festival on 29th August 2013, Nigel said there "is a real and palpable momentum" behind local television.
Text of Speech
"I’m the Chair of the Local TV Network – the association that represents the new Local TV channels. I’m Director of one the new channels – Notts TV in Nottingham. But I’m also a veteran of the long running battle to develop local TV in the UK.
So it gives me great pleasure to start by saying that after many years of debate, discussion, and false starts, Local TV in the UK is, finally, actually happening.
In the next year and a half, 19 channels are due to launch – in many of the country’s key cities and towns. And in the next 6 months, Ofcom are holding tenders for a further 28 licences.
That means, that in 2-3 years time, there could be up to 40 to 50 local TV channel licenses around the UK.
To assist these new channels, the Government has introduced 3 key incentives for the sector: the re-directing of £40m digital switchover funds; giving the Local TV channels EPG prominence on Freeview; and relaxing the COSTA ad minutage rules for Local TV channels.
I believe that this all represents a significant shift in the UK media landscape. In many ways, it’s a classic disruptive innovation. New types of programming. New approaches to funding and, yes, budgets. And a new generation of presenters and staff working in new and different ways.
But it’s more than just something new – it’s providing a key element that, as we all well know, is glaringly absent from the UK broadcasting structure.
The UK has world class national TV. It has developed a strong tradition of regional TV. But it has never been able to develop a UK-wide network of local TV.
However, that’s now changing – resolutely, and in my view, irrevocably. The channels due to launch over the coming year are being run by a wide spectrum of companies and organisations.
At the one end, there are large well-established companies, such as STV in Edinburgh and Glasgow; Arhcant in Norwich; and the Evening Standard in London. At the other end of the spectrum, there are community-based channels in places like Sheffield and Grimsby. And in the middle, a range of commercial companies, some of them set up specifically to launch channels.
This diversity, of course, was specifically encouraged by the government – but it means that there are a wide variety of business models and programming plans within the sector.
However, there are some common themes starting to develop:
As part of our Ofcom licence commitments news will be a core element for every channel – and there’ll soon be well over a hundred Local TV video journalists operating around the UK each day.
As well as news, a broad range of general programme formats are being developed which will genuinely reflect local communities and local activities.
And there is growing evidence that there is a swathe of local businesses that have never been able to afford TV advertising, and who are now showing active interest in the new affordable local advertising medium.
We’ll hear later in the Local TV panel discussion about the challenges facing Local TV channels – and I don’t want to minimise those issues.
The budgets, for instance, are considerably smaller than in traditional TV companies. Indeed, as a sector, we are having to recalibrate the established television financial model.
But as I travel around the country, in my role as Chair of the LTVN, I’m struck by the determination of the people involved in the newly emerging Local TV sector.
Have no doubt: there is a real and palpable momentum to the rolling out of these new channels.
Local TV has indeed finally arrived in the UK.
And I believe it’s here to stay.