York’s new local TV station will learn lessons from Leeds experience

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Mike Best, chairman of the Royal Television Society in Yorkshire, (centre) hosted a debate entitled Local TV: Sanity or Vanity?

By Charlotte Swift

Local TV is giving communities a chance to express themselves rather than be stifled by traditional coverage by the BBC and ITV.

Four bosses from different organisations involved in the pioneering projects to deliver local TV across the country were speaking at a Royal Television Society debate held at Leeds Trinity University last night (Wednesday).

Made In Leeds is a city television channel which launched last year and potentially covers 930,000 households in Leeds.

Chief operating officer for the Made Television Group, Dave McCormack said: “There was never a time when we thought we wouldn’t make it as soon as we launched the channel, but it hasn’t been easy.

“I do regard it as a success across all of our channels and we want to be something for everyone.”

But he stressed that if local TV is going to work, it has to be financially viable.

“We have had to rejig the business model and try a fresh approach but it is all about making money,” he said.

And Chris Johnson, CEO of Bay TV in Liverpool, said as well as communities being given a better chance of getting on air, local TV could also open up opportunities for aspiring journalists.

“If you want to get into television and you have a phone, why not record something and send it in to your local television station?”

He said as a budding young reporter he had sent in stories to his local newspaper – and now local TV channels could provide the same springboard.

A new television company, Hello York, is launching early next year and the managing director, Matt Freckelton says he has learned valuable lessons from existing channels.

He said: “With Hello York being a ‘second phase’ local channel, it gives us the opportunity to learn from other stations’ mistakes.

“If it’s going to work, it’s got to work as a business commercially.”

However, all of the speakers, including Martin Corrigan from global media agency Mediacom said they also understand that “content is king and that will remain true”.

And Chris added: “Local TV is making history. This is something Britain should have had for the last 40 years.”

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