Memorandum submitted by ACTO
The attached Word document is a Survey of Local
Public Service Broadcasting prepared for publication in Airflashthe
magazine of the Community Media Associationby the Institute
of Local Television.
It has also appeared in a recent edition of the pdf directory
ACTOlocal public service television directory.
The purpose of this Survey was to better understand
the present public purpose and public service roles undertaken
by the RSLsthe local TV restricted service licenses.
The Survey was prepared in support of the Local
TV sector's long-standing claim for recognition as "local
public service television broadcasters".
A Campaign for Local TV has been underway ever
since the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984 made provision for local
branches of community and voluntary organisations to have their
own channels on cable. Sadly, cable failed to live up to expectations
and the few local services that were carried suffered badly from
cable's poor reach. Channel 5 also held out prospects for Local
TV, to be dashed by the ITC's claim that the fifth channel should
serve an "essentially national" purpose. The RSLs underwritten
in the 1996 Act have been a poor and compromised alternative to
those proposals made to secure Local TV by the then opposition
So [...] in short, Local TV by one means or
another has been knocking on spectrum's door for more than two
The claim since 1989 has been that like the
national TV channels Local TV must reach its local universe as
completely as possible. No matter how much Ofcom talks up the
virtues of broadband instead of DTT, broadband's penetration remains
just 17% of the UK at TV speeds. It is not the preferred way to
receive Local TV (says the MORI poll undertaken for Ofcom's PSB
The interleaved spectrum option favoured for
Local DTT by Ofcom in DDR also proposes less than a local universal
and would also be poorly available across the UKso once
more this solution for Local TV will not provide services to the
majority of households in the transmission area while ignoring
the outlying or more rural parts of the country.
The only solution that makes sense is that Local
TV occupy a national DTT channel on the PSB muxes in the form
of a local network channel (LNC). Local TV channels replace the
LNC using an inexpensive and robust technology known as add/drop
at each of the 81 main transmitter sites. This solution can be
rolled out from switchover requiring no additional (or released)
spectrum because it takes up some of the spectrum gained from
the better compression arising with the switch from 16 to 64 Qam.
To achieve its public and civic purpose Local
TV needs to be transmitting alongside the national PSB channels
on comparable terms.
To allow access for LNC to the PSB muxes the
Secretary of State should recommend to parliament that Local TV
on DTT will have PSB status. Ofcom has provided a sketch of Local
DTT's "public purpose" (included within the attached).
ACTO believes that only if Local TV is carried
on the PSB muxes will it serve the public role Ofcom's DDR and
PSB reviews confirm the public require.
The Local TV sector, past, present and futureurges
the Committee's support for Local TV as PSB.
Local TV is vital to:
Maintain plurality in public
service broadcasting in the digital age.
Is a clear candidate for public
funding in addition to the BBC.
The future of key areas of public
service media content such as news provision and children's programming.
Redistributes the local "regional
TV PSB" element upon which part of the Public Service Provider
concept is based.
Supports the case for provision
of public service material on new (TV) media.
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