Two bidders have submitted applications to Ofcom to run a local television channel in Belfast: Northern Visions and Made in Belfast. If one of the candidates is successful, a local channel 8 would go live during 2013 on Freeview (as well as being carried on cable and satellite) and would cover Greater Belfast and Lisburn.
This morning, Ofcom announced the list of 51 applicants pitching for the 21 local digital television programme services (L-DTPS). While some licences appear to be quite competitively contested (Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle), others only have a single bidder (Bristol and Grimbsy). Two areas – Plymouth and Swansea – received no applications. Made TV (formerly Element TV) have submitted applications for “Made in …” channels in 11 areas.
A further local channel covering Derry/Londonderry/Limavady may be advertised by Ofcom at a later date in a second round of licencing.
Back in 2002 Northern Visions won the local community licence for Greater Belfast and have been broadcasting NvTv since then on UHF channel 62 (799.276MHz) as well as online. After a major funding wobble earlier this year, that service will come off air as part of Digital Switchover in October.
David Hyndman from Northern Visions said:
With the public able to receive local television easily, we will be able to extend our programming and services for the community including offering a low-budget solution for small local businesses to advertise their services. In developing the bid it is our intention to strengthen the partnerships with the many cultural, community and educational organisations who work with Northern Visions and also seek partnerships with the commercial sector.
Made in Belfast promises a local news editor, affordable advertising for local businesses as well as “a raft of new programmes dedicated to Belfast, concentrating on the city itself and not the region” and will create jobs for “journalists, producers, sales staff and technicians”.
Station manager Barbara McCann said:
Belfast has long been neglected by having hyper local coverage and we’re looking forward to creating content by the people of Belfast for the people of Belfast. We will provide news, sport, current affairs, cultural and entertainment programmes that go to the heart of this great city. This is the capital of Northern Ireland – let’s be proud of it.
Made in Belfast announced partners including: Downtown Radio (Bauer Media), Army NI, Belfast Metropolitan College, Bryson Charitable group, Maureen Coleman, Millar Grattan Media, Archer Advertising, Women’s Aid Federation NI, Waldovision, Public Achievement (WIMPS), MEMS, CM Film and Media Associates.
Unexpectedly, neither Ten Alps (Below the Radar and The Detail) nor Belfast Telegraph appear to be directly involved in either bid for the Belfast licence. Ten Alps were keen proponents of the previous government’s Independently Financed News Consortia.
Ofcom will shortly publish more details about the individual applications. A decision on licence awards is not expected until the autumn.