Chi’s letter to Ofcom on the Local TV consultation

13 March 2012

 

Chris Woolard
Ofcom
Riverside House
2A Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA

 

I am writing in response to the Ofcom consultation “Licensing Local Television – How Ofcom would exercise its new powers and duties being proposed by Government.” 

 

On the 3rd March I held a special surgery in Newcastle Central to discuss the Local TV. The surgery was partially filmed by sky/Tyne and Wear and their report can be found here: http://tyneandwear.sky.com/news/article/13265

 

 The key issues raised and points agreed were:

 Finance

There was a concern that the combined amount of public money and commercial revenues available would be insufficient to fund a high quality service. Innovative solutions would be required if more money was not forthcoming.

Local Content

High quality local content that reflected local lives and gave a platform for local stories was considered very important.  Positive, as well as the more usual negative, reflections were highly valued.  Local news would be a key driver, and a local ‘what’s on’ an important, currently neglected, opportunity.  There should be a requirement to engage local communities in delivering content.

 

Local Ownership/Production

As well as content being local, the ownership, control and production need to be local as well, based on local skills.


Regulatory Clarity

Currently different platforms – internet, pay TV, public service broadcasting – have differing regulatory environments.  The regulation of Local TV must be carefully thought through.

 

Innovative Financing & Cost Sharing

To supplement and maximise existing funding streams, or reduce potential costs, a number of ideas were put forward.

 

  • Partnerships should be promoted, particularly with universities and local councils.  For the latter, local TV should be away of promoting local engagement with the democratic process. Universities might be able to offer facilities sharing.

 

  • Local adverting and sponsorship, people would be more tolerant of extended advertising, sponsorship and product placement if it came from local businesses or other local organisations.  This might help cover the funding gap.

 

There was some discussion as to whether the coverage area included Sunderland and Washington as well as Gateshead and Newcastle.  If this was the case then local TV for Newcastle was thought an inappropriate term. Geographically, Tyne & Wear would be more accurate.

I shall be publishing this on my website and am happy for you to do the same.

I look forward to the next round.

 

Chi Onwurah
Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central

 

cc        Licensing Local Television – Consultation Response, Radio Content and Broadcast Licensing, Ofcom,

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