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Cannibals, manure and mongrels: Thoughts on local media

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Jeremy Hunt’s BIG IDEA of local TV across the UK doesn’t seen to have many fans does it?

Of those groups who might be expected to relish the chance to produce local, even hyperlocal, television content there appears to be a universal ‘no thanks’ in evidence.

On the one hand there’s community publishers and independents who want some support to produce local content – but primarily on cheap to produce web tv and rather than via the transmitter infrastructure proposed.

Then there’s the other world where mainstream media is being offered the ‘opportunity’ for multi-platform publishing but is struggling financially, risk averse and still seemingly licking the wounds of digital disruption.

Who is going to do this local TV?

One member of the audience at today’s Westminster Media Forum described the proposal as: “Channel 5 meets regional newspaper mutant half-breed” at an event where, as Robert Andrews posted on PaidContent earlier, ”panelists lined up to unload their scepticism”

The debate around this issue dealt mostly with the big media end of the experience by giving a trot through of what Hunt’s proposal, the Shott report and Claire Enders have previously concluded on the issue.

But also represented at the forum were some men from the financial world and I listened carefully to what they had to say……which can be briefly summed up as, there’s no money in it.

Is there a sustainable business model without subsidy? No-one seemed to think so and one of the biggest regional publishers Johnson Press’ chief executive John Fry, even suggested that ‘subsidy’ was something of a dirty word, somehow devaluing any proposition by being “out of tune with current mood music” .

Is there revenue opportunity from advertising? Yes, but only if media orgs cannibalise their existing advertising to the new platforms. The money men didn’t seem to think there was enough new revenue to be pulled in – no shiny pony to ride after digging through the manure to use the most memorable metaphor of the day.

So, who is going to do this local TV?

Written by sarahhartley

January 26th, 2011 at 4:25 pm