Despite poor viewing figures, Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision launch Local TV channels for towns and cities across the UK.
According to the FT, the health secretary said the media had been quick to write off the new channels. Hunt said: “If New York can manage six local TV stations the idea that London cannot sustain one is bonkers, despite the desire of competitors to rubbish it.”
Local TV has been starting up in the UK over the last few years with the launch of stations in Norwich, Nottingham, Grimsby and London. They have all been gifted a prominent slot on the Freeview EPG at channel eight.
Ofcom started the ball rolling in May 2012 when it invited 21 cities in the UK to bid for the local franchises.
Viewing figures have been poor despite the encouragement given by the government. One of the biggest stations to launch, London Live, has recorded audience figures in the thousands for some of its primetime shows broadcast to a city where over 8 million people make their home.
Three weeks following the launch, Stefano Hatfield quite his position as editorial director. Some shows have recorded audiences as low as just 300 people.
When asked what shows he watched on Local TV, Hunt said he watched the news, before admitting that he didn’t really watch much TV.
He added that all the Local TV channels would be a success, then promptly contradicting himself by saying: “There will be some that go bust; that is the nature of things.”
Hunt first proposed Local TV in 2011 when he worked at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport as culture secretary.