New culture secertary Jeremy Hunt has proved he’s not afraid to ruffle a few feathers since being appointed to the post in May. After entering into a war of words with Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood over the proposed closure of the UK Film Council, he’s now suggesting radical changes to regional broadcasting throughout the UK. Hunt has proposed the introduction of a number of US style ‘Metro TV Stations’ throughout the UK, freeing ITV from its obligation to provide localised news and regional programming.
The proposals have been met with a degree of scepticism. Geraint Talfan Davies, former controller of BBC Wales, said “It would be difficult to make this viable in a city the size of Cardiff, and in no way could this replace the ITV Wales news service.”
These concerns were shared by AM, and member of the Broadcasting sub-committee, Eleanor Burnham.
She said: “I’m very disappointed Mr Hunt has scrapped plans put in place to ensure ITV’s comitment to regional and localised news, as it’s very important to have plurality in the media.”
Scepticism over the possible loss of ITV’s regional output was rife on the streets of Cardiff. Isabella Mohnsam, 52 of Bridgend said, “That’s a ridiculous idea! What happens if something happens in Bridgend or Swansea? I can’t see how they would manage to fill a whole channel just for Cardiff, it’s better to keep ITV Wales news.”
These views were shared by Rhys Griffiths of Cathays who said: “I don’t think an entire TV station for Cardiff is a good idea. It wouldn’t be interesting.”
A number of concerns have been raised about the commercial viability of the venture.
Proffessor Justin Lewis, Head of Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies said: “It’s fine as an idea, but it’s not clear who will fund it. In these days of falling advertising revenues, it’s not immediately clear if it’s a viable commercial prospect.”
An ITV spokesperson defended its commitment to regional broadcasting in Wales, inisisting, “We are very commited to producing great national news in Wales, but in return the government needs to liberalise the broadcasting sector so we have the resources to invest.”
So what could the introduction of a television channel dedicated to Cardiff mean for the city? How do you feel about Hunt’s proposals? Would Cardiff TV provide a new outlet for local voices and talent? Or would it prove to be just another channel exisitng on the margins of digital television without many viewers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below