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Local TV pioneers sought by Ministry of Fun

65 possibilities, 20 pioneers

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The Ministry of Fun is looking for communities who want local TV, and has produced a map of 65 places that could be first to receive it - that is, if any locals want to argue their case.

Keen volunteers aren't expected to run the stations, only to submit two pages explaining why their city, town, or area should be one of the 20 lucky pioneers to get the first franchises, though they'll have to be on the list of places where local TV has enough free frequencies to be transmitted at all.

Those are the locations where there's enough white space, unused transmission frequencies, to allow a low-powered transmission to standard Freeview boxes. According to Culture, Media and Sport department sec' Jeremy Hunt, that space is ripe for new TV stations hosting debates between councillors and investigative journalism into local services, which have the ability to "transform lots of communities":

Sixty-five possible locations are identified in the consultation (pdf, only 16 pages and mainly pictures). These stretch from Elgin to Plymouth, but include potentially interesting spots such as London, Liverpool, Birmingham and York; even the Ministry admits that urban sites are going to be a lot more attractive. Twenty will be selected based on the submissions received and the Ministry will ask for tenders from anyone mad interested enough to launch a local TV station.

The stations will be transmitted by the as-yet-unnamed multiplex-running company or MuxCo. The consultation also offers the chance for anyone interested in becoming MuxCo (and getting £25m in BBC cash for doing so) to ask questions about the business model.

Once the broadcast channels are established the plan is to provide the rest of the country with services sent over the internet (IPTV). MuxCo's involvement with that isn't clear, but the government is committed to getting these channels well placed in electronic program guides, so at least potential viewers should know they exist, which is a good start.

If you live in one of the covered areas and feel a burning desire to have your very own local TV station, get your two-page submission in before 23 September.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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