Will Cardiff get its own TV channel?

September 14, 2010 7 Comments »
Will Cardiff get its own TV channel?

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

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7 Comments

  1. pauljheaney September 14, 2010 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    There wouldn't be a problem filling news bulletins with content from the Cardiff area – just look at Channel Island TV and BBC Channel Islands with less than 200,000 potential audience members.

    The problem would be attracting people to watch it if there wasn't much other content, leading to the other major point of concern, raised by the lady from Bridgend: if Cardiff has a TV channel, where does the local news come from for the other large towns and cities in Wales?

    If the traditional 'freeview' model was used to launch local TV stations, then you'd need to cover every major area of Wales with a newsroom. Useful for the media sector for sure, with local newspapers needing a lifeline for extra income and graduate journalists needing more job opportunities.

    Has the minister got the cash to prop up these ventures for their first year or two though?

    There's no way a local TV station in West Wales will be able to gather as much advertising revenue as one based in Cardiff or Newport and all would need the finances to establish itself as a credible method of advertising for the first year to eighteen months. Just ask anyone who's tried to launch a commercial radio station how difficult finding advertisers is.

    If this is the minister's preferred route, I'm assuming there's not much cash floating around for it, because otherwise it sounds too similar to the Independent News Consortia idea which was thrown out a few months ago. The shelved idea would have meant north wales and west wales newspapers picking up a lot of the news with UTV bringing their broadcasting expertise in to the mix too, but with a financial underpinning to ensure the project could survive more than 18 months.

    Whether the 'local TV' idea shows a lack of understanding as to the nature of the news landscape in Wales or not is not something I want to comment on. I do feel having more than one broadcaster covering regional news in Wales is an absolute necessity, an increasingly important part of democracy.

    A slightly less traditional solution could be web based channels, where local papers provide online content through hpyer-local site – an extension of sites like yourCardiff, yourPontypridd, and others). This would require a huge push for better broadband penetration across Wales. Older people would have to be targeted in particular to make sure they don't loose out and in many cases given free (or subsidised) web TV boxes and net access.

    That sounds ambitious, and it is, but it could be the final breakthrough in getting the whole of Wales Online at a time when the 'knowledge economy' has never been more important. Think of that major benefit, plus being able to deliver a more local news experience. Just imagine how much more engaged and in control the audience would be.

    The big question mark involved is whether Mr Hunt can really find the tens of millions needed to launch a huge advertising campaign for the uptake of the internet TV service, and the money to roll it out.

    The opportunities and technology are here, right now.

    Is there the funding to back up the entrepreneurial ideas?

  2. James Robson September 15, 2010 at 11:06 am - Reply

    The fundimental questions may have been asked but the answers have been thrown out without research to back anything up it seems. I can get over 300 channels if I have cable installed – Why would another attract my attention in such a localised environment. I may love Cardiff but it's not going to get me watching amidst the regionalised news that is already there. How would people substantially benefit from this service when everything is set to turn internet based anyway?

    I'm sure there are answers and I'm sure there are businesses that would love to have a very cheaply produced and run advert on this station, take a look at Radio Cardiff's model for example. Granted thats radio and completely different but why does it have to be? There's enough talent in and around the Cardiff area willing to work on this in their spare time for experience isn't there? Most of the peope you talk to in Cardiff are up for putting ideas together and at least having a go. Can this be utilised?

    Of course the launch costs may make it prohibitive but isn't everyone searching for the IPTV (Internet Protocal TV) business model for a sustainable revenue futre. Look at the efforts of the major stations already with their on-demand services, iPlayer, and everything being put onto YouTube. The closest model to adopt would probably be CurrentTV where people send their footage in, the difference for a localised station like CardiffTV would be you would have to try not to pay for it. On writing this the words PRODUCTION VALUES scream out loud and clear.

    So what on earth would it really consist of? Surely it's too expensive to make it a Cardiff News channel where everything is repeated every 15 minutes? Is there enough news in Cardiff to make it changable? If there is then wouldn't you be stepping on toes with this, WalesOnline for instance? Granted they don't have a dedicated News Pod-Cast but if it was cost effective wouldn't they already be doing it? Especially as they are the number one Welsh news outlet based in the MediavWales building.

    All I can offer is a stab at an idea towards innovation. Find the creatives who have super entreprenurial business partners and a fan base already in Cardiff. If we are nothing we are definately Celeb obsessed so make a Cardiffian a celebrity by ploughing money into more traditional routes to make this CardiffTV host a wanted character and then balance them out by getting them locked into a contract that makes it impossible for them to leave for a lengthy period of time. One taste of that kind of fictitious Paris Hilton kind of celebrity and why would they stick around on a local station. Maybe Charlotte Church would do a freebee slot to kick it off? Of course we all know the money is there but what we do need irrespective of celebrity are really charismatic Cardiff champions to make this anywhere near a viable product or brand for the future.

  3. @mikecrid September 16, 2010 at 2:20 am - Reply

    Where I live in Kansas we are served by Wichita (which covers the west . the local news is a half hour segments throughout the day , I would say in total you would get 2 hrs of local news. What about Wales?

  4. Rhys Gregory September 21, 2010 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    Perhaps a Cardiff Based TV Station but for Wales? – or South Wales…. similar to your YourCardiff but YourWales? – connecting local newspapers such as South Wales Echo to such a station (amongst others) to feed news too….

    Although it sounds like a far fetched idea and do agree with the comments regarding not enough content… i'd still welcome the idea.

  5. pauljheaney November 18, 2010 at 8:52 am - Reply

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