I was a bit dismissive of Local TV services when I first heard the idea at the Royal Television Society Conference last year. It was difficult to see what the business model was, and there seems to be plenty of television for people to watch already (average viewing in the UK is at a record level for the first half of 2011 http://www.thinkbox.tv/server/show/nav.1263 )
However the Culture Secretary has persisted in his championing of local TV and more than 60 towns and cities throughout the UK are in the running to host the UK’s first service. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14458007 http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/7235.aspx
In my blog last November and fresh from a panel chaired by Steve Hewlett to discuss the issue, I struggled to make sense of the analogy drawn by Jeremy Hunt between Birmingham UK and Birmingham USA. http://sueunerman.mediaweek.co.uk/?s=city+tv
Hunt’s claim that there is a “huge appetite for local news and information in communities the length and breadth of the country” seems at odds with the downturn in strength of existing local media. And whilst one can imagine interest in a local version perhaps of Britain’s Got Talent, how many people are going to tune in to watch their local mps and councillors electioneering.
However last week was a great reminder of the real meaning of community. As riots engulfed our cities we were glued to any kind of news and local media. We were reminded about how much we care about where we live, and indeed of the latent pride that many of us have in our local community.
There is a great opportunity for advertisers who want to promote their community values in Local TV too. Community often is expressed as an association with a community of interest like sport or film, but as my colleague Andy Walsh points out, it can also mean the few miles around where we live too.
I welcome local TV and look forward to its contribution to our media community.