Jeremy Hunt's local TV plans face delay?

Will Hunt be able to nab the 106 spot on Freeview, Virgin and Sky?
Will Hunt be able to nab the 106 spot on Freeview, Virgin and Sky?

Jeremy Hunt's plans to create a sixth terrestrial channel which focuses on locally-produced content, have hit a rocky patch, with news that the channel faces delays and could be abandoned altogether.

The idea for a national 'local' channel was an interesting one when it was mooted back in January.

Around 50 bidders expressed an interest in running the channel that would place an onus on locally-produced content.

The official bid was set to take place in June but the cost of guaranteeing the spectrum and wrangling the coveted 106 spot from the hands of Freeview, Sky and Virgin has proven difficult.

Proposals proposed

According to the Guardian, if the channel is to launch then it won't have the "spine" of national content which Hunt had hoped it would.

It was this content that Hunt thought would bring in the big name advertisers. Once they were in place, then the locally-made content would be built around this framework.

Now it seems that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking into letting local operators take charge of the channel – which inevitably would be less financially viable and not exactly what the 50 bidders were expecting when they expressed an interest.

There's no official delay on the channel but the DCMS said in a statement: "The DCMS recently consulted on the local media action plan. Ministers are currently considering a range of responses and we intend to publish proposals for next steps to deliver local TV in the summer."

If both grabbing the 106 channel and the national commercial support are indeed likely to fall through, then Hunt will find it very difficult to get his TV plans sanctioned.

Via Media Guardian

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.