Local TV issues challenge to newspapers as it reaches 5 million viewers

Stephen Chapman's picture

The Chairman of Local TV says it’s time for newspapers to “upgrade” their “out of date” circulation reporting.

He’s issued the call after the network released its first viewing figures, showing audiences in excess of 5m for June.

“Now that Local TV has accurate audience figures we challenge the regional daily newspapers to upgrade their circulation reporting to monthly as their current reporting is always seven or eight months out of date,” said Local TV Chairman David Montgomery.

“Our main competitor in the print market is seeing yearly circulation falling at a rate of 15 per cent. In Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Newcastle our Local TV channels give much better value for advertisers.”

The network broadcasts on Channel 7 in Leeds, Liverpool, Tyne and Wear, North Wales, Birmingham and Bristol.

In June 5.3m tuned in, which is up 40% since November. It added that the average 3 minute reach now exceeded 215k.

Local TV compared the reach to newspapers operating in similar regions:

“Reach Plc’s Big City Sunday package of 49,657 circulation based on the most recent ABC data equated to 89,000 readers and remains dwarfed by the average Local TV Sunday average network viewership of more than 250,000.”

The figures come from new audience measurement tool, TV Panel. This monitors real-time viewing through Freeview set top boxes and TV sets.

“These numbers go to show how our unique storytelling model is really turning heads in all of our markets. “Rolling Localness” showcases our cities in short, bite-sized, captivating video stories that are updated throughout the day across all of our platforms on TV and online,” stated Head of Channels Andy Seddon.

“We’re pleased to have got out of the studio and into our communities like never before. When news breaks we can take our short-form output live from the heart of major stories, but we’re also thrilled to celebrate the uplifting, positive stories and people that are so often overlooked in our localities”.

Local TV is the trading name of Made Television, which runs 8 local TV channels.

In June Liverpool TV had 55,500 viewers; Tyne & Wear TV had an average of 39,000; while Leeds TV had 35,500 daily viewers.

Reach response

This afternoon, the publisher, Reach, answered the challenge from Local TV, with the following statement:

"We're very proud of Reach's total Sunday print circulation of 1.2 million. We cover dozens of local areas which Local TV and other competitors don't, which is one of the many reasons advertisers love working with us. 

"Local TV also seem slightly behind the times in a constant attempt to omit any mention of our online readership in their reporting. Any serious player in the media knows that the massive and growing power of online readership can't be ignored, whether you're talking about London or Liverpool. Our total monthly digital readership in May was 39.85 million, and even if we remove our national titles from that number our regional digital reach was still a whopping 28.58 million (source: comScore May 2019)."

That's TV

It comes a day after the country’s biggest local TV operator, That's TV, announced plans to close 13 of its 20 studios, including Grimsby and Preston. Ofcom agreed to the move, because of the “financial difficulties” that the sector was facing.

In Manchester it has also requested changes to its programming commitments, removing obligations to be “substantially live” and to offer opportunities to “job seekers, those wanting new skills”

It has also reduced its commitment to local hours from 49 per week, to 24.5 hours. In addition it has dropped its requirement to broadcast 2 hours of news and current affairs at weekends and reduced its weekly news/current affairs output from 22.5 hours to 11.25.

That’s TV said that reporters would remain in the affected regions.

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