Joint Committee on The Draft Communications Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Channel M


  1.  The draft Communications Bill states that the Government needs to enable OFCOM to licence digital local television services. ( In defining local television services, the draft Bill states "Local television services are defined as services which are to be included on digital multiplexes" (8.3.5).

  2.  This proposal will take over from the current restricted service licence. At this stage there is no post switch-over plan for restricted service licences—but most of the licences will expire before the beginning of the government's switch-over window of 2006-2010.

  3.  Consequently, an interim solution is required to provide an effective bridge between existing analogue local television services and the proposed digital local television services. A number of amendments are required to the existing licence:

    a.  The duration of the RSL should be increased to eight years, in line with similar small scale licences for local commercial radio.

    b.  The provision of frequencies for the local television service should be given higher priority—the same as the other five free-to-air, public services (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5).

    c.  Digital cable should be subject to a must-carry rule for local television services licenced by the Independent Television Commission/OFCOM.

    d.  Adequate digital capacity should be allocated to local television services—a detailed plan should be included in the Communications Bill indicating the capacity to be made available to local television services.


  Channel M is a local television service for Manchester with a four year restricted service licence from the ITC. The channel was launched in early 2000—it is a joint venture between the Guardian Media Group, City Broadcasting Ltd., and the University of Salford Faculty of Media and Performance.

June 2002

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