Media minister prefers individual local stations

U.K. government plans to bow national terrestrial network Channel 6, and use it as a “spine” on which to launch U.S.-style local TV services, is close to being jettisoned in favor of stand-alone stations.

Media minister Jeremy Hunt announced Thursday that he is losing faith in the model.

Instead he now backs a plan to bow “more financially secure” individual services that would not rely on a dominant national network.

Despite widespread industry skepticism that local TV can make money in the U.K., where the national media is all-powerful, Hunt has been determined to get this project off the ground since the coalition government gained power in May 2010.

Now, following a consultation with groups interested in running local TV, Hunt said that “a series of individual stations could be more feasible and faster to deliver” than launching a new national network.

Consequently, the government is now examining whether a “bottom up” approach of licensing individual stations is the right approach.

Hunt added, “I have been particularly struck by the large number of local groups — particularly outside London — who are keen to deliver this for their own communities.”

The final proposals for local TV are likely to be announced by the end of July.

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