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Ofcom approves changes at ex-Made local TV channels

Ofcom has approved a further round of changes offering greater scheduling flexibility on seven local TV services in England and Wales.

The changes affect City TV channels operated by Local TV Limited, a subsidiary of Made Television in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, Teeside and Tyne and Wear.

As a result of the changes, the channels will be allowed to reduce the number of repeats of local programmes. Affected channels will be given "greater flexibility" in the scheduling of daily news programming, without changing the overall quantity of local news output, according to Ofcom.

Previously, some of the licences stipulated in detail the number of news bulletins and their duration. The approved changes provide the channels with a simplified quota and the option for more frequent, shorter news bulletins.

In making its decision, Ofcom's decision makers noted that "although scheduling detail for first-run local news and current affairs programming would be changed in the Licence with short news bulletins replacing scheduled content (thereby providing Made TV with greater flexibility when scheduling this programming), the quantity of local news and current affairs programming would likely increase as a result of this variation. "

After careful deliberation, it was considered that, "in respect of each licence, the character of the service overall would still be maintained following the requested variation."

There were no changes submitted covering Made TV's local channel in North Wales.

In August 2018, Made TV renamed its local television services, removing the "Made" branding. For example, "Made in Birmingham" became "Birmingham TV". The local stations are operated by Local TV Limited, a newly formed company that is under the control of the ultimate licence owner, Made Television Limited.

Made TV broadcasts its local channels on Freeview and Virgin Media in each of the licence areas. On Sky, a service that combines the output of all channels is broadcast in certain regions of the UK.

Changes to local TV licence commitments by Ofcom have proved controversial in the past, with licence holders having won their original licences based on the commitments that are being removed or amended. However, local TV operators cite funding and viewing figures as reasons why changes are needed in order to maintain the viability of their services.

Image: Birmingham Local TV