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Local TV in Oxford: Rantzen and Rosenthal back That’s Oxford’s winning bid

The beaming spires of Oxford local TV, by tejvanphotos/FlickrWhat’s new for local TV in Oxford?

Rantzen and Rosenthal back That’s Oxford’s winning bid

Childline founder Esther Rantzen and sports voice Jim Rosenthal have given their backing to the winner of Oxford’s local TV licence: That’s Oxford.

Both are board members, alongside ITV local newscaster Wesley Smith, LBC founder David Jessel and BBC Oxford presenter Danny Cox.

That’s Oxford expects to go on air in the first half of 2014, unless local Freeview provider MuxCo is ready to launch sooner.

“We will give Oxford a world-class 24 hour local TV service from day one, providing challenging journalism in the mould for which our directors are renowned,” said Dan Cass, chief executive of the channel’s owner, That’s Media.

“Our programming mix will create a distinctive channel with a ‘big network’ feel justifying our position on channel 8, utilising the latest technology so that when content is not live it still has the “live” feel.”

November 7, 2012

Who are That’s Oxford?

That’s Oxford is part of That’s Media, which also owns That’s Solent, winner of the bid to host a local TV channel in Southampton and Portsmouth.

Board members include Dan Cass, who founded Oxford’s now-deceased analogue local TV channel, Six TV; Oxford bookseller Philip Blackwell, and representatives of Oxford’s Kenton Theatre, Oxford Brookes University where the studios will be based, and Abingdon & Witney College, which will provide training for full-time and volunteer staff, and citizen journalists.

They’ve also recruited high-profile ‘vice presidents’ including Childline founder and That’s Life presenter Esther Rantzen, sports broadcaster and Oxford United director Jim Rosenthal, ITV local news presenter Wesley Smith, BBC local news presenter Danny Cox, and David Jessel, founder of LBC and presenter of the BBC’s Rough Justice.

What will be on That’s Oxford?

That’s Oxford’s licence bid hinges on set of local news shows which will run throughout the evening in 30-minute chunks, with ‘engaging, entertaining and informative local programmes for all ages, classes and cultures’ in between.

The signature programme will be That’s Oxford, with an hour at peak-time and another three hours of bulletins throughout the day. It promises to be a traditional ‘local newspaper’ on television, which will be ‘fearless in pursuit of the stories which impact on viewers’ lives’.

Other weekday evening shows will include current affairs discussion in That’s The Question, and That’s Oxford Today, a magazine show with local guests covering topics such as arts, fashion, culture, consumer and business advice, entertainment, cookery, lifestyle and local music.

Friday nights will see Esther Rantzen, her daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, former Six TV
and radio presenter Danny Cox, and model Angie Best in action on That’s Oxford at the Weekend, with stories, characters and fun competitions to brighten the weekend.

That’s Oxford Sport will have longer Friday-night and weekend slots, plus daily bulletins, bringing 24-hour sports network brand values to many Oxford sports. That’s Oxford plans to replicate the North American success of college sports on local TV, covering Oxford City games and other adult and youth football matches, equestrian events and the the Oxford Stars ice hockey team.

A daily breakfast show, Good Morning Oxford, will be run by a student team from Oxford Brookes University, while Sundays will see David Jessell take on local politics in That’s Politics, and charitable and non-profit events will get peak-time coverage through What’s On Where.

There will be space for live outside broadcasts from major events such as The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival in March, Oxfordshire Art Weeks and Oxfringe in May, Cowley Road Festival in June, St Giles Fair in September and switching on of the Christmas lights at the end of November. That’s Oxford is also committed to creating our own outside events in conjunction with local partners such as political debates, chat shows, comedy and entertainment.

Local groups will also be encouraged to contribute to the schedule, such as ultra-local news from Witney TV, Grindelwald – the independent nature and history producer; Oxford’s children’s
drama school, Youngstar, and Oxfordshire Community Voluntary Action.

The indicative schedule below gives a taste of the programming in the first two years (double-click image for full size).

That's Oxford indicative schedule local TV

Where will That’s Oxford cover?

Broadcasting from the Oxford transmitter, That’s Oxford will reach the city, Abingdon and Didcot, as well as parts of Farringdon and Witney.

The map below gives an indication of the predicted coverage.

That's Oxford local TV predicted Freeview coverage

When will local TV be coming to Oxford?

That’s Oxford is working to a launch date in the first half of 2014, but said it plans to be flexible if the local TV multiplex operator is able to deliver good coverage at an earlier date.

What’s Local TV all about?

Local TV is an ongoing project to bring local news, entertainment and services to at least 21 cities in the UK, with the possibility of this expanding to a further 28 areas.

Will I have to retune my Freeview box?

Local TV will be coming to Freeview channel 8 when it launches in Oxford, but it will be on a new frequency with two other new TV channels, so you will need to retune in order to get them all.

Can I get Local TV on Sky, Virgin Media or Freesat?

There’s still a debate as to where local TV will appear on Sky’s programme guide and how viewers will be able to get it.

Virgin Media is in favour of delivering a local TV through an app on its TiVo boxes, providing access to local TV streams from all over the country.

Sky and Freesat are a challenge for local TV channels, because it will be very expensive and wasteful to purchase satellite capacity for 21 channels. Every local channel will reach the whole country because satellite transmissions can’t be focussed onto small areas, even though they only need to reach a small area.

It’s more likely that the channels will be delivered over broadband using Sky On Demand and the new Free Time from Freesat.

Sky has suggested that local TV channels should be available through the yellow button on its remote control, because it doesn’t want to move Sky Living from number 108 in the Sky Guide. Virgin’s also in favour of using the yellow button instead of ousting the incumbent from channel 8, and although Freesat would have no trouble making channel 8 available, the yellow button could become the default for local TV like the red button has for interactive TV.