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Local TV's Welsh Freeview slot debated in Parliament

Labour MP Madeline Moon led a Westminster Hall debate on the introduction of local television stations.
Madeleine Moon (Lab) led a Westminster Hall debate on local TV.
The rollout of local TV and its position on Freeview in Wales was discussed in Parliament yesterday. Welsh MP, Madeleine Moon told fellow parliamentarians that she was "disheartened" by the positioning of Welsh local TV services on Sky and Freeview.

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."
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

READ Full transcript
From Hansard

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  1. Madeline Moon is clearly an idiot. Wales actually has the highest position of all local TV services - channel 4 for S4C. And S4C will look like a rawing success compared to these tinpot local stations.

    What she really should be asking is why the local service for North East Wales is being run from Liverpool, has just 2 hours of non-news local content a week (and less than an hour of news a day) and is largely a simulcast of Bay TV Liverpool - which itself mainly consists of teleshopping and Euronews.

    Would have been much better for the Wales licences to be awarded together with a requirement for more local sub opts including news and a reasonable quota of local programming.

  2. For Freeview If they so fussed the most simple accommodation change is that Channel 4 in Wales on 26 and the result is Welsh Assembly is a Winner!

    What I would do is move Channel 4 from 8 in Wales to say 13 and Channel 4 +1 move to 26 UK Wide but fear Film4 (at current 15) or 4Music (18) end up there but the +1 is more 'deserving' to get the lowest position. 4Music might be immune as its C4-Bauer version of Viva from Viacom. You'd think Channel 4 must really want QVC to be kicked to a Shopping Genre as it can ultimately benifiet from 16 as well.

    They (the Welsh Assembly, English MPs and Scottish MSPs) should put there energies they debating about Freeview instead on Virgin Media and being dumped down in 159 and harmonise efforts to improve things but for that Scotland and Wales Politicians in particular with point scoring would probably sadly not want to help something that also probably have an effect that it also help the English!

    What that would be a more interesting Local TV LCN Slot Parliament debate is Scotland! as it will be a fight of PSB V PSB with the BBC (BBC Alba) V Government (Mr Hunt) Local TV pet project! I personally put Local TV for Scotland on 13 if BBC Alba was deemed more Need of 8 but it would be simpler for all if BBC Alba moved.

    1. The situation in Scotland was debated back in December, but it's no different to Wales (as far as Freeview is concerned). The intent is not to move PSBs to make way for other PSBs, but to move non-PSBs. ITV2 is the obvious candidate.

  3. Perhaps she could have done a little bit of research herself, before wasting Parliaments time debating a subject that is already known within the industry.


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