No National Network for Local TV

MAY 18, 2011 12:05 AM| no comments

So it seems the Government now has cold feet over its plans for a national network for local tv – the so called Channel 6. The plan was to have a national channel occupying a prime slot on the various EPGs’ with opt outs for local channels. In this way, or so the argument went, there could be sufficient advertising revenues and the project could be pump primed with £50 million of BBC money.

But despite 50 expressions of interest the word is that the national spine is unlikely to happen. That’s clearly going to disappoint a large number of people but is it really such a bad thing?

The reality is that there is no real business model for a national/local broadcast tv service. There just aren’t the numbers to make advertising work and it’s unlikely that there will be enough compelling content to allow for a subscription model. So yes you can subsidise  it through public funds – however you disguise this – but the business model itself just doesn’t add up.

But does that matter? Surely if this is in the public good then £50 million isn’t such a large amount of money to spend. But to me that’s missing the point. There is real opportunity for local innovation here. Not just in the business model but, far more importantly, in the provision of the tv services themselves. And if you seek to impose the wrong technical and business solution you’ll stifle that innovation.

The democratization of the means of video production and distribution through the internet means everybody can now be a broadcaster. And if you take a look at some of the work now being created you’ll also agree with me that is of an extremely high standard. But most important of all the community is both the broadcaster and the audience. And that means for the first time you get real community engagement without spending money.

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