Memorandum submitted by Six TV
SIX TV THE OXFORD CHANNEL
SIX TV The Oxford Channel (the trading name
of Oxford Broadcasting Ltd) was the fourth restricted licensed
television service to come on air in the UK, in June 1999.
It is a free-to-air local terrestrial analogue
commercial television service which can be received in most of
Oxfordshire and some neighbouring areas. The potential audience
is around 450,000.
The channel, which broadcasts on UHF Channel
47 or 679.25MHz, operates from studios at 270 Woodstock Road,
Oxford. The output is 70 per cent local and the station has the
support and involvement of many of Oxfordshire's organisations,
businesses, education and individuals.
It is a locally-owned independent operation
and the company's majority shareholders have had long experience
and success in local commercial radio and television.
The channel has, contrary to the trend for many
other television channels, seen its audience increase. Research
carried out by the channel revealed that 200,000 people a month
were viewing SIX TV50,000 more than when it was last surveyed.
Viewers are right across age groups but the channel scores well
with the television elusive 15-25 age group.
SIX TV broadcasts 24 hours a day. The schedule
features daily magazine programme and lifestyle programmes and
specialist programmes covering rural and urban issues, daily arts
and entertainments listings, music and sports, including coverage
of local speedway, basketball, and rugby football. Additionally
there are popular local advertising features about cars, employment,
training and properties. It also provides the opportunity for
local councils to broadcast public service messages.
Our research, along with experience of positive
audience feed-back and advertiser interest, provides further evidence
of the public demand for local television .
Oxford Broadcasting Ltd appreciates the opportunity
of providing this written submission to the Select Committee.
It sees the following as key issues for consideration:
Local television licences should
be increased from four to ten years duration, to bring them in
line with other commercial licences . (This is vital for business
planning and investment).
As digital planning continues consideration
must be given to including local television services to ensure
that this third tier of televisionat the heart of local
communitieshas security of tenure and confirmation of a
place on a digital platform (SIX TV The Oxford Channel has been
working with ntl on digital terrestrial trials).
Where local television channels exist
in areas covered by cable television (as in Oxford) encouragement
should be given to cable operators to carry those channels. (This
would provide a local service dimension to the range of channels
carried by cable-which are rarely available nowand so increase
viewer choice). There could be joint commercial and marketing
Now ITV regional channels are carried
by digital satellite, viewers are usually limited to one regional
service for news and information instead of the sub-regional services
available terrestrially. This is narrowing viewer choice and expectation.
Local television channels could plug this gap and develop further
around the UK to meet the demand for local information.
Existing local television channels
have much to contribute to the development of the wired cities
projects and broadband developments. They should be an integral
part of discussions as local authorities and other regional bodies
consider the dissemination of information by new communications
Training and education should go
hand-in-hand with local television services. The channels can
provide opportunities for newly-qualified broadcasting/media people;
work experience for students and community access. (SIX TV has
taken part in a European training scheme).
Local television is a stimulant for
independent production. SIX TV works closely with the well-established
Oxford Film and Video and other independents.
RSL licences are now being readvertised
by the ITC for a four year term. Whilst existing licence holders
are being invited to reapply new competition is also invited.
The ITC has indicated in its revised guidance notes that "it
will on balance be more likely to favour continuity of service
by a current licensee, unless in all circumstances the merits
of the application made by the current licensee are outweighed
by the merits of an alternative application". That being
the case we suggest that consideration might be given to rolling
over existing licences in circumstances where there have been
no compliance difficulties and the service remains viable, rather
than undertaking costly and administratively-heavy reapplicationsfor
both applicants and the regulator.
7 March 2002