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Teesside channel given greater flexibility over schedule

Local TV channel Made in Teesside has been given greater flexibility over the type of content it has to broadcast.

Media regulator Ofcom has allowed the channel to make more use of shared and acquired programmes, broadcast across various local TV channels, removing previously stipulated percentage quotas from its broadcast licence. The move gives the channel more flexibility in scheduling programmes.

In addition, the channel is no longer bound by original licence requirements to increase the amount of first run local programming it shows each week, with Made in Teesside obligated to deliver 37 hours of local first run content each week instead of the between 38.5 and 45.5 hours a week previously laid down in its licence. The number of repeats of such content that it originally was obligated to show has also been slashed.

Made in Teesside made the request to Ofcom to vary its programme commitments on the 29th March 2017, one day before the channel launched, but was only given the green light by Ofcom this week.

In considering the request, Ofcom found that the proposed changes to the programming output were of a "minor nature and would have no real impact on the nature of the service". Acknowledging that in terms of the quantitative commitments in the licence, the proposed variation would reduce the overall volume of local programming which Made in Teesside is required to provide, Ofcom considered that the service would "nevertheless still be providing a substantial volume of local programming, across each week."

Most local TV stations have been allowed to roll-back on earlier licence stipulations that required them to steadily increase local output during the first three years on air, with some channel operators having referred to lower than expected viewing figures. The Made TV network, of which Made in Teesside is part, combines a comprehensive local offering with a spine of shared or syndicated output, including a selection of lifestyle programming previously shown on Channel 4. The Made TV network covers locations including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool and Mold.

Made in Teesside is available in the local area on Freeview and YouView channel 7 and Virgin Media channel 159. Sky viewers receive sister channel Made in Tyne and Wear 

Earlier this year, in a further sign of relaxed regulation of local TV services, Scottish local TV licence holder STV combined its diferent services into one channel - STV2. In creating the new single STV2 channel, many viewers have ended up receiving a service that is less localised than STV's channel 3 service, which offers local opt-outs for news and advertising. Despite being a variation on what was originally promised when the licence winners for Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee's local licences were announced, Ofcom has never published any decision-making documents about the changes. STV2 contains local news from each licence area as part of its daily schedule.

  • Meanwhile, local TV channels for Basingstoke and Reading have quietly gone on air this month, with no fanfare or significant publicity. That's Thames Valley (Reading) and That's Hampshire (Basingstoke) can be received in their respective local areas on Freeview channel 7.