Friday, 3 February 2012

Government’s Local TV policy will fail to serve local communities

Government’s Local TV policy inadequate

Graham Jones MP criticises Government plans concerning Local TV as short-sighted, naive and monopolistic

Hyndburn MP Graham Jones has attacked Government legislation building a framework for a Local TV channel as poorly thought-out and ‘short-termist’.

Graham said: “The Government is taking a top-down, monopolistic approach to create an expensive infrastructure that will be out-dated in a very short time.”

The plans would involve using current freeview infrastructure – excluding cable, broadband and 3G – using £40 million of BBC funds to provide for only 20 cities. Local TV stations will be totally dependent on advertising to provide local news and programmes.

Graham added: “Local TV stations relying on advertising revenue in a time of austerity will result in big business and oligopolies having huge influence over the stations. It is difficult to imagine how news is to be impartial and unbiased while the stations are funded by powerful corporations and won’t be subject to Ofcom’s impartiality rules. The Government’s proposals simply do not have safeguards in place to address this.”

The Government’s policies were confirmed by the Delegated Legislation Committee on Tuesday, despite significant criticisms of the policies.

Graham argued that Internet TV is the future and will best allow communities to have control over local TV: “The technology is already established to allow seamless internet convergence, letting individuals and groups create TV channels that can address local issues and be broadcast through the internet. Projects such as the BBC’s YouView have the potential to give communities real power over what they can watch. The Government is ignoring this entirely and so relying totally on freeview. One hour of local coverage with 23 hours of national television does not meet the ambition and I worry that this is just a Channel 6 in disguise.”