Digital TV platform operators reveal where they would put Local TV

Following calls by potential local TV operators, all major digital television platform operators have indicated where in the channel listings they would put local TV services.

Sky
Sky stated that it intended that a local TV channel in each relevant "Sky region" would be allocated the first available channel number in the relevant genre (which Sky assumes, for at least some of the launched local TV services, will be the Entertainment genre). Thus, Sky has reserved channel 117 (outside of Wales) and 134 (in Wales). In the event of there being more than one local TV service in any given "Sky region", further slots would be allocated at the end of the entertainment genre. Sky told Ofcom that it was intending to make changes to its Sky+ HD EPG to make local TV services accessible from the ‘yellow button’ on the front page. The yellow button would launch a ‘quick-link’ menu containing links to the available local TV channels.

Virgin Media
The UK's largest cable provider, Virgin Media, has assumed that local TV services should be in the news genre. Virgin Media’s response to regulator Ofcom states that Virgin Media has had tentative discussions with a number of potential local TV operators. The company "considers it would be preferable to deliver a combined linear, Video on Demand (VOD) and text service as an application via internet protocol on its TiVo platform", which is available in over 670,000 Virgin Media households. The application would be reserved a position on the first page of the TiVo applications page. A link to the local TV services on the TiVo platform would be placed "close to the BBC News Channel" on the Virgin Media EPG. 

Freesat
Freesat was the most lukewarm to local TV on its platform. It told Ofcom "it is not presently in active discussions with local TV services, and its response is therefore on a hypothetical basis. Freesat would allocate linear local TV services an appropriate position on the EPG subject to availability in a suitable genre and to Freesat’s EPG Listing Policy. Freesat anticipates local TV services would be subject to a single listing and one logical channel number (LCN), with different local TV services regionalised to the level of the existing TV regional structure: more granular regions would incur considerable expense for local TV services."

The free to air satellite platform operator stated it considered Video on Demand or IPTV as more "cost effective and flexible" in the delivery of local TV services.

Freeview
Meanwhile, DMOL, the organisation managing the channel numbering system on the digital terrestrial television platform, including services operating under the Freeview brand,  has already stated in a recent consultation document that it intends to keep channel 8 reserved for such services in England and Northern Ireland, whilst channel 45 would be used in Scotland and Wales, where channel 8 is already in use.

Not the channel numbers they want?
The responses from the satellite and cable operators will no doubt disappoint potential bidders. Richard Horwood's Channel 6 group has - perhaps not surprisingly - made it clear again this week that it would like to see its London local TV service on Sky channel 6, replacing Sky 1 (HD). It sees satellite and cable distribution as a necessity due to what it sees as inadequate coverage of London from the Crystal Palace transmitter.

As reported on website London24.com, Richard Horwood - who lives on the 42nd floor of Canary Wharf - stated of his home location: 

“It feels like I’m living in a transmitter,” Richard says with irony. “If I could, I would perfect the signal by sticking a transmitter out on my balcony.
“But I can’t. It has to come from Crystal Palace on Freeview which won’t reach all London—unless Ofcom does its job and gets the station on satellite as well, where it belongs. Ofcom must not duck the issue.”


 

Related Article:
http://a516.blogspot.com/2012/05/ofcom-invites-wannabe-local-tv-players.html
Ofcom has invited interested parties to apply for licences to operate local TV channels and a licence to run a network of local digital multiplexes to transmit the local TV channels on Freeview.
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