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Local TV channels rebrand

More change for the local TV sector, following the rebrand of channels serving some of the UK's biggest cities.

The local TV services are now operated by Local TV Limited, which in turn is controlled by the original licence holder Made Television Ltd.

The changes have affected the TV channels running in Birmingham (pictured above), Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, North East Wales, Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

It follows changes to the channel's social media feeds at the beginning of August, which first removed the "Made in" branding.

Details behind the restructuring and rebranding have not been disclosed, but the changes come following the cessation of licence fee funding for news content for all but two of the local services operated by the company. Under the 2011-16 licence fee settlement, new local TV channels were entitled to claim money for up to three years from launch date. Only the Teesside and North East Wales service remain entitled for funding, while all other channels operated by the company have to survive on commercial revenues alone, including the operator's channels for Birmingham and Liverpool, which originally launched under different ownership over three years ago.

Already, 2018 has seen dramatic cost-cutting and consolidation across the former Made TV network. The satellite service has been reduced to a single stream - although Sky viewers see their local channel name in the EPG (in the relevant broadcast regions only)- the actual service is a single channel that contains the local news bulletins from each station on an alternating basis, plus simulcasts from CBS Reality, which started late in 2017.

Freeview and Virgin Media users in each of the channel's coverage areas still see some additional local programming in the evening beyond a looped local news magazine show, but even this has been cut back to a bare-bones service, with CBS Reality simulcasting on all platforms from 9pm. Most output is now shot on location instead of being broadcast from a studio. The local channels have also begun showing the national Met Office weather forecast, as also shown on the Met Office website and app.

At the end of this week, the local TV service Estuary TV is closed and replaced by a new That's TV-branded service for East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. At some point this autumn, viewers in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Ayr and Dundee will see new channel That's TV Scotland launch on Freeview on the former STV2 slot.

The local TV channel operators and Ofcom have remained quiet about the changes affecting many of the channels, amidst harsh criticism in some press outlets about the way the local channels were set up by former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the funding agreement that resulted in the licence fee being top sliced to support the new channels. Earlier this summer, Ofcom abandoned any future local TV roll-out, not wanting to add any financial burden on the local TV multiplex operator Comux, which is responsible for the infrastructure that brings the local TV channels to Freeview households.