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Local TV stations have 14 months to launch or miss out on BBC funding

Local TV stations yet to launch need to be on-air by 31st July 2017, or miss out on access to BBC licence fee funding.

The next BBC Charter and licence fee agreement will no longer provide for local TV stations, who will need to be self-funding. The 2010 licence fee settlement provided up to £25 million to build the terrestrial transmission network to support new local television services on Freeview and up to £5 million per year over three years to enable local television stations to access content funding from the BBC.

This focused on the BBC acquiring a fixed volume of content for a fixed price, totalling £300,000 per station over the course of the first three years of their operation, thus supporting the establishment of local TV. Currently the BBC showcases reports from various local TV companies in a weekly show called Digital Nation, which is broadcast on local TV channels and on the iPlayer.

In the Government's White Paper on the BBC Charter, confirmation came that local television stations that are launched by 31st July 2017 and wish to receive this BBC support for their first three years of operation will receive it.

Local TV licences have been awarded in the following locations, where a service hasn't yet gone on-air: Ayr, Aberdeen, Basingstoke, Carlisle, Dundee, Guildford, Maidstone, Middlesborough, Mold, Reading, Salisbury, Scarborough, Swansea and York. Already some channels are behind the original launch schedules as dictated by Ofcom, who gave local TV channels two years to launch from the date of winning their licence.

Funding for these arrangements only will be provided by the BBC from an underspend of the £15 million funding that was protected in the last licence fee settlement for local television content but has not been spent in its entirety.

This funding will be rolled-forward for the above purposes and made available between 2017/18 – 2019/20.

Existing local TV stations will not be entitled to any new funding when the new licence fee settlement starts in 2017/18, but the Government has said the BBC will need to continue to work and develop its partnerships with local news providers.