Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Hunt to lift regional media ownership restrictions

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to say today he’ll lift all cross-ownership restrictions on regional media to encourage the setting-up of local television stations.

According to BBC News, Hunt will use a speech to the Royal Television Society in London to say an expansion of superfast broadband and the easing of rules on owning local newspapers, radio and TV will help encourage the new stations.

But a report says advertising alone will not be enough to support the stations, but corporate sponsorship might work. Nicholas Shott, of investment bankers Lazard, was commissioned by Hunt's department to investigate the local TV proposals.

His interim report suggests a multimillion-pound corporate sponsorship deal could be one way to make them work, citing Barclays' backing of the London bicycle scheme as an example.

  • Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning that the "market had failed" in the UK to build the type of network of local tv stations that exist in the US, Sweden and Canada.
  • Hunt's enthusiasm for local tv stations has been met with some scepticism. Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said in June: "We look forward to seeing the results of the independent commercial assessment of local television but it's worth noting at this point that we don't see 'City TV' as a viable proposition. Our research suggests that the costs are too high and the revenues too low to support a sustainable business model."

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