Ofcom delivers local TV report to Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The department for culture, media and sport has said it is now considering a report by Ofcom on ways in which the current system of public service broadcasting (PSB) might be changed to help deliver local TV services, and will announce its plans in the new year on the “next steps for local TV in the UK”.

The report was published on Friday for the department after culture secretary Jeremy Hunt asked Ofcom to produce the report in his speech at the RTS International Conference in September.

It sets out options relating to commercial PSB providers ITV1, Channel 4/S4C and Five as well as ways that new providers of local services might be assisted.

Some of the main recommendations/considerations taken from the report:

  • There is a significant opportunity under current legislation to create a new licensing regime for local TV on digital terrestrial TV (DTT). In the future this could help create a clearer regulatory distinction between national and local providers of content and new revenue opportunities could potentially be created if a new local TV channel was carried on DTT.
  • The Government could decide to add any new local TV service to a list called ‘must carry’ – meaning the channel must be available through all platforms which have a significant audience size and that the owner of the platform is under a legal obligation to ensure the channel is shown.
  • If the Government wants to add extra material obligations on existing providers, it may be necessary to reduce current obligations and quotas – such as ‘out of London production’ – to balance the future incentives and obligations associated with PSB status.

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