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Ofcom to merge local TV areas

Ofcom has earmarked four areas where local TV services are to be merged into two.

The Luton and Bedford areas will now be covered by a single licence as will the Gloucester and Malvern regions.

Ofcom said the two sets of areas have “similar cultural similarities” and added that the mergers would make “licences more attractive to potential applicants, and the licensed services more likely to be viable.”

The decision came after a public consultation. In June this year an earlier consultation resulted in the merger of Hereford and Gloucester, into an area now known as Gloucester, and Tonbridge and Maidstone into an area now known as Maidstone.

The watchdog said it had received five responses to the consultation, two of which were from potential applicants for the licences in support of the merger plan.

The University of Bedfordshire said Luton and Bedford should be merged as the towns shared “cultural similarities” and a larger coverage area would make the licence more viable.

In support of merging Gloucester and Malvern, the Triple Broadcasting Co said that these locations shared “significant cultural similarities and institutional links” and a service would “creatively and editorially improved by covering a single area.”

Comux UK said that a merged coverage area would be unlikely to materially reduce costs, as it would still need to be covered from two transmitters.

Around 19 local TV licences are set to launch next spring. 

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