The Beeb website is reporting that more than 60 towns and cities – including Carlisle are in the running to host the UK’s first completely independent local television services, with the first licences due to be awarded next year.
The licences will be awarded after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has judged the level of interest from potential broadcasters and audiences.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has urged local communities to make their case to be included in the first wave of start ups. The idea is to bring news, current affairs and entertainment back to a local level where it is relevant.
For instance, we here in Carlisle used to have Border TV based in the city. But due to merges with Tyne Tees during ITV’s cost sutting exercise, the TV studio here closed in 2009. And whilst we still have ‘Lookaround’ (regional news programme) it is now broadcast from the Tyne Tees studio in Gateshead, in the North East so has lost its local identity.
This was ultimately a shame, because a number of well regarded programmes were made in the city in the 1980′s. Including “Bliss” – 1985, a popular Channel 4 music show which used to hosts bands including Depeche Mode and Paul Weller’s Style Council. Other shows included another Channel 4 early Jools Holland popular music venture called “The Groovy Fellers”.
Local TV is all about identity and whilst bigger cities are bigger fishes in the running for the new independent services, such as Sheffield. It can’t be ignored that Cumbria used to have a surprisingly varied heritage of TV making, till recently.