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How might a 10,000 pound a week local TV channel work?

Each of the local television stations will need to run a service with costs less than half a million pounds each year. How is that achieved?

Each of the local television stations will need to run a servic
published on UK Free TV


A local TV channel running on a budget would not be able to provide a rolling news channel type service as this would be too costly.

A more typical would be for the channel to produce three half-hour programming blocks per day: one at "breakfast", one at "lunchtime" and a final "evening" block. This block could either be produced as a live programme, or almost-live to save production costs.

Each half-hour block would then be electronically repeated over the following hours, providing a full-time service.

A typical schedule for the half-hour block might be:

  • 30 seconds identify and titles
  • 2.5 minutes local news headlines
  • 7 minutes local news content
  • 1 minute local weather and traffic information
  • 4 minutes adverts
  • 1 minute headline summary
  • 9 minutes local features
  • 1 minute local weather and traffic information
  • 4 minutes adverts

Costs control

The use of standard broadband and internet facilities, rather than the traditional broadcaster-friendly synchronous data services will probably be necessary.

A nationally co-ordinated technical order for the necessary hardware to support the local TV channels would considerably reduce capital and maintenance costs.

The co-location of a newsroom in an existing local newspaper office would also reduce costs (but not increase plurality). Some technical facilities as well as marketing and advertising sales may require cross-locality sharing for the smaller stations.

Technical challenges

There are several technical challenges to getting the channels on air, much of which will be covered by the £25m-a-year from the BBC to cover the engineering costs of the local television stations.


For Freeview, a single-directional broadcast panel located half-way down a TV transmitter will broadcast a multiplex in QPSK mode, which will provide for a single local channel plus one guest channel. The maths (204 x 1 x 1/4 x 2/3 x 32/33) provides a multiplex capacity of around 8Mbps, about one-third of a "normal 64QAM" multiplex.

The local channel will appear in the electronic programme guide at position 6. As the local TV multiplexes use restricted frequencies it will not be possible for reception of more than one local TV service.


If the locality has a cable TV system, the local TV service can be delivered to the cable company (Virgin Media) where the channel can appear as 106.


In addition, satellite capacity will need to be found. It might be expected that lower bitrates will be used for local TV services cover smaller populations (as not happens with the BBC and ITV Channel Islands services, for example). Sky might require specific ministerial instructions to place the appropriate (based on the registered postcode) local TV at position 106 in the programme guide.

EPG slots 6 and 106

If Sky (or indeed Virgin or Freesat) are unwilling to relinquish control of the 106 slot, then channel 100 is unused on all systems at the moment. However, the law does seem to give the Minister the right to demand the slot - Communications Act 2003.

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Friday, 12 August 2011
Bored Burke
11:23 AM

Whoo 48 minutes of content per day. I'd rather have ITV3+1

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Bored Burke's 1 post US flag

11:41 AM

Bored Burke: It's 66 minutes...

If a local channel is serving an audience of 200,000, say 3% of the population, with perhaps six full-time staff, you are not going to get a "News 24" type service.

I can't see anyone wanting to watch local information 24/7, can you?

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
Steve P

11:56 AM

Would they not integrate with local radio?

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Steve P's 1,173 posts GB flag

12:02 PM

Steve P: I would suspect the answer to that is that only BBC local radio actually produces anything you might take for news, and the idea here is have a non-BBC service.

There are no restrictions about local radio being involved, but there is a general principle that "number of voices" should be increased.

I would have though it really depends on the size of the "locality". If it is London, West Yorkshire, Birmingham, the market can probably sustain another company.

Where the population is under 100,000 you could probably argue that a TV-radio tie up would secure both.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
Mike Dimmick

2:12 PM

65 MPEG-2 streams on satellite would require 5 transponders if you crammed them in as tightly as the Freeview SDN multiplex is (11 streams in 24Mbit/s, 33.8Mbit/s available from a satellite transponder gives about 15 streams).

Unless, again, you're going to insist that potential viewers upgrade to DVB-S2, but I note that DVB-T was specified for the DTT service.

I suspect you'll be lucky to find 5 spare transponders

Local stations had better not want to use any music; PRS want a minimum of £16,500 for broadcast rights:

UK channels without a BARB rating

. You also have to pay PPL but I can't find a price on their website. That's only if broadcast in the UK, so those transponders are going to have to be found on Astra 2D or 1N UK beam - you could blow your whole budget on music licences if the channel ends up on a Europe-wide beam.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB flag

2:42 PM

Is it worth all the cost and trouble (cant see SKY giving up position 106 without a fight) for 66 minuets a day??

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Ian's 497 posts GB flag
Ian's: mapI's Freeview map terrainI's terrain plot wavesI's frequency data I's Freeview Detailed Coverage
Mark A.

5:00 PM
Haywards Heath

I haven't got Virgin but believe that they have a channel 100.
100 = On Demand Previews

They could show 5* or 5USA or ITV3 or Film4 etc when not transmitting the local news.
This would be a good idea for the Channel 5 group, as they don't have local news and only Channel 5 in many areas.

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Mark A.'s 373 posts GB flag
Mark's: mapM's Freeview map terrainM's terrain plot wavesM's frequency data M's Freeview Detailed Coverage

5:13 PM

Ian: The law requires that Sky (and any other broadcaster) put public service channels nominated by the Secretary of State - Communications Act 2003 - the services will run 24/7.

As there is no "national spine" then having programming on a loop is the only real option.

As the service is advertiser funded then 16 minutes per hour of broadcast time would be allocated to this.

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag

5:31 PM

Still seams a lot of money for not much as far as I can see.

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Ian's 497 posts GB flag
Ian's: mapI's Freeview map terrainI's terrain plot wavesI's frequency data I's Freeview Detailed Coverage

5:40 PM

Ian: Surely it is spending almost no money at all.

For example - from….pdf :


Content £1,131m p/a
Distribution £50.8m p/a
Infrastructure £221.2m p/a


"Channel 6" station
Content £0.5 p/a
Distribution £0.4m-£2m p/a (£25m/65 or £25m/12)

"Channel 6" network of 65 stations
Content £32m p/a
Distribution £25m

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Briantist's 38,899 posts GB flag
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