Hello and welcome to our weekly travel media and technology bulletin featuring the latest developments on media and technology around the world, published every Tuesday at 06:00 BST.
In 2011, the then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had an idea.
If Birmingham, Alabama could have a string of local TV stations, then why couldn’t Birmingham, England?
Even though local media in Britain was already under pressure with ITV cutting back on regional news bases and local & regional newspapers closing, Jeremy Hunt was convinced it would be a success.
As anyone who has ever visited the US and taken one step out of the East and West Coast states would know, a combination of culture, geography and politics means that individual US cities and states are radically different from each other. This is much more so than the nations and regions of the UK with power still relatively concentrated in Westminster.
The UK communications regulator OFCOM advertised licences for more than 30 local TV stations in the UK. The BBC, in the face of a hostile Government, was forced to pay tens of millions to fund its infrastructure. Not only that the BBC is required to buy content from local TV stations, regardless of whether it is fit for broadcast.
Most local TV stations have not delivered on their initial promises and have substantially reduced their hours of original programming. Many TV stations have fallen into the hands of one group, That’s TV. BuzzFeed has an extraordinary account of its working conditions at That’s TV and how it is gaming the system to secure funds from the BBC.
One station not mentioned is London Live. Owned by the proprietor of The Evening Standard, this channel launched in 2014 with grand promises of dedicated IPTV streams for London boroughs. Despite extensive cross promotion in The Evening Standard, it has had remarkably little impact. According to CityAM the channel is up for sale. Arguably, there is a place for a dedicated TV channel for London with someone with both the ideas and the resources to support it.