RNS Number : 4281Z
Office of Communications
22 September 2009
ITV network licence no longer sustainable by 2012:
Response to government sets out proposed delivery of regional news after switchover
22 September 2009
The costs of the Channel 3 licences to provide ITV television programmes across the UK will outweigh the benefits by 2012. This is the conclusion of Ofcom's response to a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) consultation on delivering TV news in the nations and regions.
Ofcom's response says the Channel 3 regional network licences could be in deficit to the tune of £38-£64 million by 2012.
The Channel 3 regional licences allow ITV Broadcasting Limited (ITV plc) in England and Wales, UTV in Northern Ireland and STV in Scotland to broadcast terrestrially, using reserved analogue and digital signals, but come with a number of public service broadcasting (PSB) obligations, including a requirement to provide regional news services on Channel 3, which is the biggest cost.
But as the digital TV roll-out gathers pace across the UK, the value of this access to the radio spectrum is declining.
Ofcom's response says that new funding will be required if regional news on Channel 3 is to be maintained.
Delivering regional news
The response builds on recommendations that Ofcom made to government and Parliament in January 2009 with the conclusion of its statutory review of Public Service Broadcasting.
This proposed the creation of independent news consortia, funded by competitive tender, to deliver a choice of regional news across the UK on the Channel 3 schedule. These could offer greater localness and cross-media news provision.
The consortia could be made up of existing television news providers, newspaper groups or other newsgathering agencies. They could be chosen against a range of public criteria, including the ability to achieve the reach, editorial standards and overall quality of current Channel 3 regional productions.
Analysis of local and regional media in the UK
Ofcom today also published a research report on Local and Regional Media in the UK, in line with its statutory duties to ensure that a wide range of high quality television and radio services with wide appeal is available throughout the UK and to maintain sufficient choice in the provision of different television and radio services and a range of other relevant duties.
The report shows that the UK's local and regional media are facing unprecedented challenges, driven by growing use of the internet. While not-for-profit, community and ultra-local level community media are becoming more important in delivering public value, awareness and impact of these services remain low.
The report highlights the fact that consumers continue to tell Ofcom they value a choice of regionally-based television news and relevant local content.
Ofcom's analysis suggests that independent news consortia could be an effective means of achieving this valued choice of news, alongside the BBC, while providing a potential platform for the future development of more local services, including local TV, and using other media.
The report also shows how the spectrum freed up after digital switchover could create further opportunities for new local TV services. Ofcom proposes to consult on the potential uses of this spectrum in due course.
The report also sets out a range of stakeholder views on the measures needed to ensure the future of local and regional media and sets out alternative proposals that have been made to foster the development of local media.
Ofcom's response to the DCMS can be found here:
The 'Local and Regional Media in the UK' report can be found here:
Ofcom's 'Radio: the Implications of Digital Britain for Localness Regulation' can be found here:
Ofcom's consultation on the 'Media Ownership Rules Review' can be found here: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/morr/
Notes for editors
Under Section 3 of the Communications Act, Ofcom has specific statutory duties to secure the availability of a wide range of television services across the UK that are of a high quality and wide appeal, and to maintain sufficient plurality of providers. This response to the Government's consultation draws on many of the findings from its statutory Public Service Broadcasting Review, published in January.
Ofcom response is to the DCMS' consultation, 'Sustainable independent and impartial news; in the Nations, locally and in the regions', which can be found here: http://www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/consultations/6245.aspx/
Ofcom is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.
For further information about Ofcom please visit: www.ofcom.org.uk. Ofcom's news releases can be found at: www.ofcom.org.uk/media/
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