Ofcom has today announced that Northern Visions was successful in its bid for the licence to run the local digital television service for Belfast, which is expected to launch in autumn 2013.
The successful application secures the future of the channel via terrestrial television, as its existing analogue service will shortly be closed in line with analogue switchoff across all of Ireland on the 24th October. While the channel will not immediately re-appear on digital this year, its relaunch in autumn 2013 will come with additional financial support under the local TV project, that was started under former Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. In addition, the soon-to-be-named local TV multiplex licence holder will provide carriage for the channel over a wider terrestrial coverage area than now.
In contrast, earlier this year, supporters of Northern Visions were campaigning to keep the station open, requesting that viewers lobby influential Northern Irish politicians, after being told in April that it was no longer eligible for funding by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and Northern Ireland Screen.
“Northern Visions is delighted to be part of this new and exciting venture. We would like to thank Ofcom and all our partners and supporters and we look forward to making local television on digital terrestrial television a reality for Belfast”, said Simon Wood, Chairperson of Northern Visions.
The only other applicant for the Belfast licence was "Made in Belfast". Its parent company Made TV Ltd has however won the local TV licences for Bristol and Cardiff.
Its current analogue service using a 500 watt transmitter in Belfast on UHF channel 62 will cease at digital switchover in two week's time. UHF channel 62 is part of the frequency band being cleared for 4G mobile broadband.
Once a local TV multiplex has been licenced and set up to operate in the area, the channel will broadcast on a new frequency (UHF channel 30) and be part of the Freeview service. NvTV is expected to relaunch in autumn 2013 when the channel will enjoy a significant power boost compared to its current analogue service - going from 500 watt to 5kW Effective Radiated Power and be broadcast from a main transmitter site:
Proposed coverage area - exact coverage will depend on the final decision on broadcast parameters to be used. © Ofcom. Based on QSPK 2/3 mode. The above should only serve as a rough guide.