Ofcom names 20 towns set to get local TV stations

A further consultation will decide whether the earmarked areas are awarded licences

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Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has unveiled the 20 UK towns and cities selected to open the first local TV stations as part of his plans to increase regional viewing offerings.

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Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Southampton and Swansea are the 20 areas.

They were chosen by TV watchdog Ofcom, from 65 that initially applied, based on interest from local audiences and potential operators.

Following a further consultation period in the areas, licences will be awarded, with the first stations expected to launch next summer.

“I am confident these new stations will provide local communities with programming which is relevant to their daily lives, will support local democracy, boost the big society and enhance local communities,” said Hunt.

Meanwhile, 24 more areas have been identified for a second round of licensing, four in Scotland, three in Northern Ireland, one in Wales and the rest in England.

Hunt expects the stations to be self-financed through advertising, although some set-up costs will be drawn from a £40 million budget earmarked for local TV in the latest government settlement with the BBC.

Hunt said: “Local TV providers will need to produce quality content that people want to watch, which in turn will make it attractive to advertisers.”

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The government says the services must be given “appropriate prominence” on electronic programme guides, to make it easy for viewers to find their local station.