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Want to start your new 24-hour news channel on Freeview? A simple guide!

Congratulations, you have applied on the Ofcom website for a TLCS licence. Yours for £1000, the Television Licensable Content Service is only the start of what you will need.

The Elizabeth Tower  Photograph: Shutterstock
The Elizabeth Tower Photograph: Shutterstock
published on UK Free TV

The main things you will now need to consider are:

  • EPG position
  • Coverage problems
  • Bigger coverage problems for HD
  • Declining TV market
  • Licence for service not the same as licence to own a mux
  • So much time to fill
  • You cannot just claim to be balanced

 

EPG position

The Freeview EPG rules, which are run by Digital UK under approval from Ofcom (as per the Broadcasting Act 2003) means that your news service is going to have to be placed between channels 230 and 249.   The good news is that people who already watch the news channels will see you, the bad news is … no one else will.    Congratulations, you are on channel 236! 

Coverage problems

You are now going to have to get yourself some broadcast capacity from the owners of one of the Commercial multiplexes.   This means – Arqiva – who have the ability for you to broadcast to 90% of the UK.  You will be behind the BBC and ITV who have total coverage.

Bigger coverage problems for HD

Unless you want to broadcast in HD, where you will only be able to get to 76% of the population and be limited to the 73% who have upgraded to Freeview HD – and only until 30 June 2022.

Declining TV market

The problem for any new TV channel is that TV is a declining market.    BARB figures show [2] us that the average hours watched has declined from 30 hours in 2010 to 22.5 hours in 2020.     That is a quarter lost in the last ten years.   Not the most conducive environment.   

Licence for service not the same as licence to own a mux

Of course, just having a Television Licensable Content Service (TLCS) licence is not enough… you will need to get someone with a Multiplex Licence to put your TV channel on the air. 

So much time to fill

The BBC News channel costs them £53m a year [4].    But this is just to cover the additional costs of the channels above and beyond providing the online news, BBC World News and the substantial contributions that BBC One’s budget makes.  

You cannot just claim to be balanced

An Ofcom spokesperson told UK Free TV  “All licensees are required to follow due impartiality requirements as set out in our broadcasting code”.

 

I'm sure you can find your own issues too.  Perhaps you want to be on Sky and Freesat too?   

 

[1] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/10883/tlcs_guidance.pdf

[2] https://www.barb.co.uk/viewing-data/weekly-viewing-summary/

[3] https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your-licence/tv-broadcast-licences/current-licensees/multiplex

[4] http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/reports/annualreport/2018-19.pdf



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