TV-BAY December 2012
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tv-bay’s Local TV BroadcastShow Live debate took place at BVE North on 13 November 2012. need to be in place. But after that the likely focus is advertising. “We want to appeal to both people that have advertised locally and those that have never advertised at all,” says Davis. “We are going to have to be very, very creative to develop the right kind of campaigns.” Selling advertising nationally is another option, as Ed Hall, the chief executive of Canis Media Group, the company bidding for the multiplex operator licence, outlined: “Although all of the licences are local and about providing local content and television in the community, what you are actually creating here is a new national network or semi national network on channel 8 in a lot of the country. That will attract a significant audience and it means that for the first time local broadcasters can co-ordinate and sell their media on a national basis.” In addition to advertising, the BBC has £15m of the licence fee put aside to buy news from Local TV providers for the first three years. While it has its merits, it’s a proposition that doesn’t appeal to all. Some licencees see the BBC as a competitor so won’t want to sell their content to them while others suggest, quite sensibly, that the Corporation won’t have the airtime to broadcast all this new content. Reevell has another view. “[I see it as] an opportunity to collaborate with the BBC rather than to compete with them,” he says. “If the BBC is willing to put up [the money] and you can produce local news to a standard that the BBC would use then you can build a new form of news producer, effectively approaching it as an independent production company.” While content and funding are crucial, the means with which to produce and broadcast television are just as significant. Which means that technology is required of course. But at what cost? When visitors to last month’s BVE North were asked what they thought it would cost to set up a local TV station, the numbers were pretty big, anything from £400,000 to “a cool £1,000,000” was suggested. The truth is much less terrifying. The tv-bay BroadcastShow Live set- up for BVE North was, in essence, a Local TV studio. And it didn’t cost anywhere near a million quid. “The Autocue Production Suite that we used, which is a newsroom, a live multi-camera production system and an automated playout channel in a single box, costs about £22,000,” explained Autocue Sales Manager Paddy Taylor who was floor managing the show. “Once you add in the remaining hardware components like the cameras, tripods, lighting and sound, I reckon that the whole studio and channel could be put together for about £40,000.” Which is quite astonishing. For the panel, however, the specifics of the technology were less important at this formative stage than the ethos behind their acquisition. Reevell, for example, talked about looking at Local TV like a digital start-up while Davis thinks technology costs could be reduced through licencees working together. “I have encouraged a lot of other single city bidders to not make an awful lot of decisions until we are all sitting around the table and can see where we can develop economies of scale,” she said. With technology, funding and content covered that just leaves one question. Will it work? “I think the local TV initiative will work,” concluded Hall. “Some channels are going to be outstandingly successful and some will fail but it shouldn’t be judged by individual channels.” “It is going to be successful,” added Davis. “I would not be in it if it wasn’t going to be successful.” 66 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE TV-BAY072DEC12.indd 66 07/12/2012 15:14