Wednesday 15 July 2009

Regional press could make local TV under Tories' Roger Parry plan for 80 new city stations

Regional newspaper publishers could produce local television news on ITV, under Tory plans to create 80 city stations, MediaGuardian and The Times report today.
The Conservatives proposals, produced by outgoing Johnston Press chairman Roger Parry as part of a review of creative industries, draws on the US and Canada where local TV companies succeed without the need for public subsidy.
The Tories propose creating a range of about 80 local media companies - delivering TV, print and online sevices to regional and local communties.
"A typical LMC will cover cover a single city or group of towns and will combine the media formats of local television, radio, print and websites," states the report.
The Conservatives say they will relax cross-media ownership rules and print media merger regulations.
The proposal would see Ofcom auction up to 81 local TV licences, through a single "spectrum band manager", to allow independent media consortia to produce local media coverage.
Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative's shadow culture spokesman, said that his party was opposed to "topslicing" about £50 to £80 million a year from the BBC licence fee to prop up regional news on ITV.
Parry told The Times that previous attempts to create such channels - of which the only survivor is Guardian Media Group's Channel M in Manchester had failed because "Brits have been so wedded to BBC and ITV that efforts to match their standards have been too expensive". But he believed the success of YouTube meant that people were now prepared to watch more simple television if it meant they could get local news.

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