Belfast Telegraph

Culture Secretary hails Northern Ireland broadcasting at Local TV summit

By John Mulgrew

The Government's Culture Secretary has praised Northern Ireland's local television broadcasting as "better than many parts of the UK".

Jeremy Hunt was in Belfast's Ulster Hall yesterday to discuss the new Local TV initiative, which would see multiple areas across the UK chosen to broadcast local television to viewers over the next two years.

The consultation has identified 65 suitable areas for the scheme, three of which are located in Northern Ireland - Belfast, Londonderry and the Limavady/Coleraine area.

Around 20 areas will be granted local licences in 2012 with broadcasts scheduled for the following year.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Mr Hunt said areas such as Belfast and Derry would be "very obvious places" to host a local television scheme.

"The digital and creative industries are one of the biggest we have here as a country," the minster added.

The Minister met with the heads of local media and broadcasters during a question and answer session. During discussions he said his department had managed to reduce the cost of running a local television station to below that of a local newspaper.

Although the concept of small stations transmitting news and entertainment to local audiences is not new, it has yet to be implemented in Northern Ireland and across the UK, but is commonplace in North America and Europe.

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