Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an action plan to make his vision of local TV a reality.
Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, Mr Hunt said the initiative would offer communities a “new voice” and provide local perspectives directly relevant to them.
The Action Plan, which builds on the Shott report published last month, proposes broadcasting the channels on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and displaying them prominently on the Electronic Programme Guide (EPG).
New and existing media providers have been invited to register their interest by 1 March and come forward with suggestions on how a channel dedicated to local news and content could work best.
Mr Hunt said the goal was to award licences by the end of 2012 and for local TV to be “up and running” soon after.
“For consumers, what this will mean is a new channel dedicated to the provision of local news and content - one that will sit alongside other public service broadcasters, offering a new voice for local communities, with local perspectives that are directly relevant to them,” Mr Hunt said. “So I am inviting all potential providers to register their interest with my department by 1 March, with the formal process scheduled to begin early this summer.”
He added that the Government will not be prescriptive about the number of areas around the country that will be involved and will wait to see what commercially viable proposals come forward.
New Communications Act
The Culture Secretary also told the conference that a thorough review of media and communications will be carried out, leading to a new Communications Act.
The new act will aim to allow the UK’s digital and creative industries to move to the next stage and play their fullest possible role in promoting competition, innovation and economic growth. Mr Hunt said Government would talk to industry about the key issues in the coming months and publish a Green Paper at the end of the year that will set out the full scope of the Bill.