Belfast's local TV channel NVTV has launched a battle for survival after being told it was no longer eligible for funding by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and Northern Ireland Screen. NVTV is run from the Northern Visions Media Centre in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.
Funding for the centre, which was established in 1986, was previously received from both bodies. Effectively, it has been told by ACNI and Northern Ireland Screen, that it is neither a film nor an arts organisation.
In a press release, the broadcaster noted "Northern Visions is the only community digital media and arts resource of its kind in Northern Ireland and has pioneered arts and digital media initiatives with hundreds of groups in the community, many of them in our poorest neighbourhoods."
It says that without the funding, the media centre (and its TV channel NVTV) will have to close.
Northern Visions has asked supporters to lobby the First Minister of Northern Ireland, and the Northern Irish Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, and has posted a support form on its website.
NVTV is transmitted from a 500-watt transmitter in Belfast and broadcast in analogue on UHF channel 62. Time is running out for analogue television in Northern Ireland, with services to cease on 24th October 2012. UHF channel 62 is part of the TV frequency band that is going to be cleared for 4G mobile broadband, therefore not only does the channel face funding issues, it also has to deal with what it will do at digital switchover.
Last week, Manchester's local TV service Channel M - latterly run by Salford University - was taken off air by owners GMG.
These recent developments affecting existing local TV services come as the beleagured UK Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt and Ofcom plan to licence new local TV services shortly. These services would be eligible for carriage on Freeview channel 8 in Northern Ireland and England and channel 45 in Scotland and Wales, based on current proposals.
Northern Visions Press Release