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Local TV launches in the UK…
T he first of a new wave of
local TV stations started
broadcasting recently with
Estuary TV launching from its base in
Grimsby. Over the next year the 19 new
channels launching across the UK
funded by advertising, sponsorship
and commercial agreements with the
BBC will see a mix of local news, sport
and culture. There have been many
questions asked about the concept
of local TV, how it works and what
the future might hold so we spoke
exclusively to Lia Nici, Executive
Producer, from Estuary TV.
What is the difference in local tv and
I think that’s just semantics really,
I think people sometimes use
‘community television’ as a derogatory
term and imagine that local TV will
be ‘wobbly camera TV’ with just
people’s own videos being aired,
rather than interesting and engaging
local television programming. Some
great television can be made in the
province that is produced with a
combination of local TV professionals
and viewers who may not work in
the media industry, but can produce
great content. Everyone these days is
very media savvy and that can make
for some very watchable content and
some very commercial brands coming
to the fore.
So how about the annual budget to run a
station such as Estuary TV?
That depends on the station. We
have worked on a turnover of
£250k-£350k. We are a very small
area and we have planned cautiously,
so this is just a starting point for us.
What determines this budget?
The programming plan and the costs
associated with that and the expected
income streams that come from that.
A lot of research goes into the plan as
to what people want to watch - that is
central to everything really.
Where does funding come from?
Our plan has a mix of income streams,
commercial: advertising, sponsorship,
36 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 84 DECEMBER 2013
product placement etc; media training
working in partnership with our parent
company, the Grimsby Institute. We
also do some grant-funded work with
TV and of course there is the start-up
money from the BBC where we get
paid for providing stories to them,
which is currently a 3 year model.
117, but some of that will be based
on their own commercial plans. There
may also be other broadcast platforms
such as FreeSat. Many channels will
also stream on the web and all will
have catch up in some form. This is
just the starting point, so it will develop
over the next 3-5 years.
How does the current station output differ
from what Estuary have been doing for
the last 10 years or so?
How do you monitor viewing numbers?
We do news and current affairs and
obviously our programmes relate to
now, not 10 years ago! It’s a totally
different channel to years ago. One or
two series have continued from cable
onto Freeview, but that’s because
that’s what the audiences wanted and
they continue to be popular.
We’ve heard that London Live will need
around £15 million per year – why the
difference to a smaller region?
I can’t answer for London Live, but
all stations, although part of the
Local Television Network (LTVN), are
separate companies, with different
business models and varying audience
reach. The whole point of local TV
is that it will not be like regional TV
working from a set pattern across the
country, each will refl ect their own
areas and people.
Do you think it will take marketing budget
away from community / local radio?
I don’t think so, consumers use radio
and television in very different ways
and I think there is room in the market
for local TV without damaging radio
budgets. We are certainly not in the
market to try to take business away
from anyone else in our sector. Our
aim is to build creative and media
employment, not damage it. There are
a lot of companies out there that aren’t
advertising and we are getting lots of
interest from people who have never
considered advertising on any local
Is this Freeview or on satellite as well?
Freeview and YouView Channel 8,
or channel 26 if you are in Wales or
Scotland. There will also be Virgin
159 and for some stations also Sky
The LTVN are working together with
audience research organisations to
plan a local TV audience research
system, so sometime in 2014 it will
be possible to do. Obviously at a
local level we do our own research
too and we have based our current
slot rates on independent research
commissioned by Ofcom.
How many people does it take
to run the station?
Again, that will differ from channel to
channel. We have a core team of 8
here, but at any one time we probably
have the same amount of freelancers
working with us too. As the channel
develops, we also aim to produce less
of the output ourselves, so currently
we have three independent production
companies working on programming
for the channel and we hope that will
What is the stations 3 year ambition?
More locally produced series across
a wider range of genres and interests;
joint working with other TV licences
and perhaps even some network
shows. We also want to support a
growing media economy in our area,
so more variety of companies to buy
from or commission will be key. It
would also be great to see those
people working behind and in front
of the Local TV cameras as new
talent developing further, helping local
TV go from strength to strength and
to get some regional, national and
international success too. That
would be a great position to be
in by the end of year 3.