Grimsby’s Channel 7 will be the first of Britain’s new local TV stations to go live on Freeview, launching in November on, er, channel 8?
Channel 7’s already live online and via Virgin Media in the town, and will be changing its on-air identity to Lincolnshire to avoid confusion.
The launch was announced at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival by Comux UK, the which will operate the national platform for local TV channels under a Ronseal-style brand: Local TV.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Local TV and Lincolnshire LivingLia Nici, executive producer at Channel 7 Grimsby, said: “The opportunity to launch our service on Freeview represents a major advance for us and will bring us to a far bigger audience.
“This has been made possible by the shared infrastructure that Comux UK has put in place which allows us to focus our investments and efforts on programme making. We’re, therefore, very pleased that we will be the first station to broadcast on the new service this November.”
Local TV has been allocated channel 8 on the Freeview TV guide in England and Northern Ireland, and is likely to have channel 34 in Wales and Scotland. Virgin and Sky have yet to agree how local TV channels will appear in their channel listings.
Local TV licences have been assigned to stations in 19 major British towns and cities, with Ofcom looking for interest in another 20 locations.
Comux UK is owned in trust by the local TV channels, and the Local TV multiplex will also host two other commercial channels which will provide income to support the project.
Ed Vaizey, minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said: “This agreement marks a key stage in the development of local TV.
“The first station to hit the airwaves will launch an entirely new media industry in the UK. These stations are creating new jobs in our communications and creative industries, and providing people with a fresh way to be informed about their local communities.”
Local TV channels will ultimately have to support themselves through advertising, but the BBC Licence Fee will supply £5m a year until 2017 to be shared nationally, plus £25m to set up Comux UK.
Ed Hall, chief executive at Comux, said: “Local TV will become a familiar brand over the next year or two, and we fully expect that the local television service will attract a significant audience in the areas that it is available.
“Ofcom is currently seeking expressions of interest in a second phase of local stations across another 30 locations, and we are looking forward to the launch of the first station this autumn.”