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Following the last Election, the then Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, commissioned a study of the potential for local TV in the UK (the “Shott Review”). On receipt of the review, the Government moved to introduce a new framework for local TV. The necessary Orders were passed. Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, identified possible sites for services and issued invitations to bid for licences, to which standard licence conditions have been applied. The first channel began broadcasting in November 2013, with others scheduled to launch in 2014.

The Government’s objectives are that local TV should be distributed as widely as possible by Digital Terrestrial Television and free to the end-user; it should offer a core of “local” news (i.e. not regional); the service should be provided on a commercially sustainable basis, and with relatively light touch regulation.

The Shott Review made it clear that a number of revenue streams would be required in order to ensure sustainability of local TV. The BBC has committed to provide start-up capital costs of up to £25m in 2013/14 for up to 20 local TV services and up to £5m per annum of ongoing funding from 2014/15 for three years to acquire local TV content for BBC use.

Local TV channels have been designated as “public service broadcasters”. This means that they should be guaranteed “appropriate prominence” on electronic programme guides. Debate continues on how best to achieve this aim in a multi-channel, multi-platform environment.

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