Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Six TV



  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 TV—50,000 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 television—at the heart of local communities—has 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 now—and so increase viewer choice). There could be joint commercial and marketing opportunities.

    —  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 technology.

    —  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 reapplications—for both applicants and the regulator.

7 March 2002

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