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Local TV success ‘too early to say’ – OFCOM boss

Ed Richards Ed Richards

With just a day to go until Leeds launches its own city television channel, doubts about the future of local TV are still being bandied around and this time it’s the outgoing Ofcom chief who has been less than forthcoming.

When he appeared before MPs on the Commons culture, media and sport select committee yesterday, Ed Richards was asked by Labour MP Ben Bradshaw for his verdict on the local television adventure.

“Rather like the French revolution, it is too early to say,” said the regulator. “We will only know which if any are successful, or highly successful, or don’t succeed, over three or four years.

“The reason I think it’s too early to say is there are a wide range of different kinds of providers. There is London Live at one end and there is a service, for example in Grimsby, at the other. They are very, very different beasts.”

His comments, already been compared to that of Chinese communist leader Zhou Enlai by commentators at the Media Guardian, are unlikely to provide much support to those new stations working towards launch dates across the north.

When Made in Leeds starts on Thursday it will be the latest of the TV stations to go on air after a bidding process started by previous culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and which has already experienced problems in both London and Birmingham.

Thirteen companies were awarded licences for 19 regions in late 2012 (some in early 2013) with various different business models.

In the north, MADE Television is he local TV licence-holder for Leeds, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

In Manchester, YourTV is understood to be recruiting at present and has said it will start broadcasting before February.

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