Local TV framework
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The government has published details of 65 towns and cities across the UK with the potential to receive local digital terrestrial television (DTT) services under recent government proposals. The pioneer locations have been identified by Ofcom as well-positioned to receive services broadcast using geographic interleaved (GI) spectrum - the spectrum in the spaces between the spectrum allocations for different DTT geographic regions.
The government believes that GI spectrum is particularly suitable for delivery of local TV. Capital and operating costs are low compared to other solutions; and broadcasts delivered using GI spectrum necessarily have limited geographic coverage, making them well-suited to the provision of highly localised content.
Under the government’s proposed framework for local TV services, announced on 18 July 2011, 8 MHz of GI spectrum is to be reserved for local TV. Ofcom will award this spectrum to a single multiplex company (“MuxCo”) who will be responsible for building and operating a local broadcasting infrastructure. Ofcom will separately award licences for local TV services under a new local TV licence regime, and licensees will be guaranteed access to the MuxCo’s local infrastructure.
According to the government’s timetable, the award process will begin in early 2012, when Ofcom will consult on the new local TV licensing regime. The award of GI spectrum to the MuxCo and the first tranche of local licences are expected in Q3 2012.
Both the proposed new local TV framework and the list of pioneer towns and cities are open for consultation until 23 September 2011. The government will take into account responses to the consultation in deciding which towns and cities will be covered by the first tranche of local licences.