Local TV bidder promises bigger budget than Channel 5’s

A COMPANY bidding to run a digital TV channel dedicated to providing local TV programming is claiming that, were it to win, it would represent “the biggest boost to the independent TV production sector in 30 years”.

Channel 6 is bidding to run the channel along the lines of UK-wide programming – with access, therefore, to UK-wide advertising revenue – but with the option for local ‘affiliates’, as many as 40 of them, to opt out at any time to broadcast their own programming.

The company adds that, were it to be selected, it would have a bigger budget than Channel 5.

A digital TV channel dedicated to local TV programming was proposed last month by Westminster Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Companies such as Channel 6 are required to lodge a note of interest in running the channel by the first of next month.

And Channel 6 has won the support of the head of the trade body for independent TV production companies. In a statement, it quotes John McVay, chief executive of PACT, saying: “PACT welcomes any new channel in the UK that is prepared to invest significant new funds into original UK programmes. Channel 6 could offer new sources of commissioning for hard-pressed indies in the regions and we look forward to working with Channel 6 as they develop their plans.”

The statement also quotes Channel 6 chief executive, Richard Horwood, as saying: “The key to making local TV attractive to both viewers and advertisers is programming of as high a quality and broad a range as we are used to on the other public service channels. Britain’s independent production companies are world-beaters, and we are looking to them to provide brand new features, drama, and other concepts to inform, empower, and entertain our viewers.

“We’re working with some of the country’s top talent to develop exciting new programme ideas, which I’m afraid we have to keep close to our chest until the formal bids are in, probably early next year. What I can say is that from launch we will have a bigger programme budget than Channel 5 and we will be spending roughly the same amount per viewer as BBC2.

“Over 60 per cent of our programme budget is for original production, and of this we expect the bulk to be commissioned from independent producers. Channel 6 won’t be yet another mishmash of old US series and programmes you saw last week on our sister channel. On the contrary, Channel 6 will deliver the biggest boost to the UK’s independent production sector since the launch of Channel 4 a generation ago. And because of our local focus, one of the main beneficiaries will be creative talent in the regions and nations.”