|Madeleine Moon (Lab) led a Westminster Hall debate on local TV.|
Putting her case across, the Labour MP for Bridgend said "Unfortunately, as the process moved forward, it became clear that the situation in Wales—as opposed to England and Northern Ireland—was not as positive as we had hoped. It is particularly disheartening that Made in Cardiff will be allocated channel 26 on Freeview, compared with its counterparts in England and Northern Ireland, which will be allocated channel 8."
|"Wales has experienced
a double injustice. Services in Scotland will also suffer from being placed
on channel 26, but they will join England and Northern Ireland on Sky channel
117, while Wales has been given channel 134. That is a double reduction in
prominence for Wales compared with the other nations. Why is Wales being
singled out in that way?"
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey set the record straight, highlighting that the different channel number for Wales was known to local TV licence applicants.
He told Mrs Moon that "the situation is different in England and Northern Ireland, because the channel 8 slot used there for local television is used by BBC Alba in Scotland and by Channel 4 in Wales since the usual slot for Channel 4 is occupied by S4C in Wales. That is why the channel 8 slot is not available for local television services in Scotland and Wales.
"When we originally put together the policy on local television, the slot available was channel 45, so there have been significant changes."
IN A NUTSHELL
Why are local TV stations not on Freeview channel 8 in Wales and Scotland?
Channel 8 is already used by Channel 4 in Wales, because S4C takes Channel 4’s usual slot.
In Scotland, channel 8 is the home of BBC Alba, which launched on Freeview in 2011, and previously home of Tele G.
Although local TV channels are set to be entitled to the same “prominence” on digital TV Electronic Programme Guides and channel line-ups as the main Public Service Broadcasters [PSBs] (e.g. BBC, ITV), the channels stopping local TV from launching on channel 8 in Wales are themselves PSBs.
Commercial stations such as QVC refuse to give up their high ranking Freeview channel numbers and any move to single out and move a commercial station down the channel list will be controversial, and subject to be challenged by the affected broadcaster.
Digital UK, who oversee the allocation of Freeview channel numbers has taken the policy of moving local TV in Scotland and Wales up the channel rankings as stations close. The closure of Top Up TV last year enabled local TV in Scotland and Wales to move to channel 26.
"It is important to emphasise that those people who have bid for local television licences—and we welcome the people who bid and who have been awarded the licences and will run those pioneering services—have gone into the process with their eyes open. They knew what the slot was when we began the consultation. They have seen the slot change as we have encouraged Freeview to push local television up the rankings when slots became available. "
Although not clarified by Mr Vaizey, Local TV's Sky EPG position in Wales is also due to the S4C/Channel 4 situation.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is reviewing the prominence given to Public Service Channels on satellite, cable and terrestrial platforms, with the aim of amending current legislation, which already secures channels 1-5 or 101-105 for the five main channels, to include local TV and HD versions of Channel 3, 4 and 5.
Local TV on Freeview in Wales was originally allocated channel 45, but has been gradually moving up the rankings as channels have closed in the last nine months. Channel 26 is the first empty slot on the Freeview EPG in Scotland and Wales, whereas channel 8 is empty in England and Northern Ireland. The use of channel 8 in Wales for Channel 4 dates back to the On/ITV Digital days and was inherited in October 2002 by Freeview when it launched.
WATCH Westminister Hall - Discussion of Local TV stations
From BBC Democracy Live
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