Belfast Telegraph

20 areas chosen for local TV plan

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the 20 locations likely to launch the local TV services which he has been championing.

The list of "pioneer areas" has been chosen from a shortlist of 65 which were identified in the summer to possibly run the schemes.

The aim is to create a series of "commercially viable" stations carrying locally made programmes and news across the UK.

The first areas will be Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea.

The locations were chosen following a consultation to check the level of interest from potential operators and audiences in areas where it was thought to be technically possible to set up the services.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom will soon conduct a further consultation into how licences will be awarded.

Legislation enabling the stations to be set up has still to be passed, but the Government is going through the process of setting up the statutory framework. Licences are expected to be awarded through competitive tendering, with bids from commercial and not-for-profit operators.

Mr Hunt said: "Local TV will be a fundamental change in broadcasting in this country, meeting a real demand for local news and content. We are now putting in place the measures needed to establish a series of commercially viable local TV stations.

"I am confident these new stations will provide local communities with programming which is relevant to their daily lives, will support local democracy, boost the Big Society and enhance local communities."

A further 24 areas have also been identified for a future round of licensing. These are: Aberdeen, Ayr, Bangor, Barnstaple, Basingstoke, Bedford, Cambridge, Carlisle, Derry/Londonderry, Dundee, Guildford, Hereford, Inverness, Kidderminster, Limavady, Luton, Maidstone, Malvern, Mold, Salisbury, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Stratford upon Avon and York.

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