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Ofcom eases local TV programme commitments on two stations

Local TV stations serving Birmingham and Liverpool have been given greater flexibility over the scheduling and hours of local programming.

It's the result of the latest in a series of requests by local TV operators to regulator Ofcom to amend programme commitments that were originally promised during the licence award period.

Both Made in Birmingham and Made in Liverpool have been allowed to reduce the amount of first run local programmes to 35 hours a week. Made in Birmingham originally was committed to show 41.5 hours a week, Liverpool 40.5 hours a week. Also, commitments regarding repeats have changed, with repeats down to 21 hours a week. In peak-time, both stations can now run 14 hours of local programmes, with 7 hours of repeats prescribed. Specific commitments to the number of minutes dedicated to news programmes have been been struck out or made more flexible.

The changes will allow both stations to harmonise their output and scheduling with other Made TV channels now the local TV services are part of a wider network, which also serves cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle. In 2016, Made in Birmingham replaced Big Centre TV in the West Midlands, and Made in Liverpool took over the local TV licence from Bay TV Liverpool. The Made TV network provides a spine of programmes shown across all stations, plus local versions of feature programming.

Ofcom Executives have approved the changes judging that the changes won't affect the overall character of the channels.

Meanwhile the regulator is understood to have approved, but not published, watered-down commitments for Scotland's local TV licences, allowing Scottish broadcaster STV2 to launch a single-feed service for viewers in Aberdeen, Ayr, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the new channel replacing the current STV City TV services in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Originally, the five Scottish licences were issued on the basis of separate local TV services for each location. So far, only those licences for Edinburgh and Glasgow have gone on air. Within a short time of STV Glasgow and STV Edinburgh launching, they were combined for all but local news programmes. STV2 will launch on the back of these two licences, plus the local licences for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee.