The Westminster government Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s local TV plan recently unveiled the location of 65 potential local broadcast TV stations across the UK including nine in the nation of Scotland, six in Wales, and surprise, none in the Duchy of Cornwall (though there are two nearby up-country in England – in the County of Devon).
Cornish people without broadband internet will have to put up with any new (or recycled) TV content beamed from over the border in England – from Barnstaple and Plymouth – or hope to pick up Haverfordwest’s signal from Wales.
A national digital channel for Cornwall is looking a long way away, and more generic English ‘home-counties’ programming narrowing choice for even longer seems certain.
Scottish National Party politicians have criticised the announcement of proposed locations for local TV in Scotland, the plans have been described as falling “short of the mark” and of having “gaping holes”. Pressure mounts in Scotland for a national digital service.
In Wales Plaid Cymru MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr Jonathan Edwards called for greater investment in Wales’ three national television channels rather than the rollout of such ‘local’ TV in Wales.
It soon became clear however that there had been no real focus on providing TV stations, in distinctive cultural areas in Scotland, Cornwall, or indeed anywhere in the UK, to service those communities. Locations were premised mainly on areas with available free spectrum. A technology driven solution to a community want.
The stations will be run by businesses and community groups in Mr Hunt’s vision comes to fruit, though finding viewers in some locations for generic content, and in the economic climate financing considerations, may be real hurdles.
According to the Department of Culture Media and Sport up to 20 ‘pioneer’ stations could be granted licences in the first wave of local TV. The stations will transmit on freeview Channel 6 and via the internet to TV sets, once the technology for IPTV is in place.
Cornwall’s apparently dwindling number of willing TV licence-fee payers will be unable to see something local happening in the Duchy for their money; and will instead be contributing toward £25m of initial funding taken from the BBC licence fee to fund this new broadcasting infrastructure, and £5m a year for three years from 2014 from the BBC, which will be obliged to spend the money on acquiring content from the new stations.
Cornwall’s population may look more to streaming vision from growing non-broadcast alternative providers with broadband becoming more available, and podcasts, to satisfy their unique needs, as well as the growing community radio scene.
Some current vision providers web sites in Cornwall:
Editor, Cornwall24.net e-magazine
24 August, 2011