Must carry for UK local TV
By Julian Clover
Published: December 13, 2010 08.01 Europe/London

Local television services could be given “must carry” status under recommendations from Ofcom. The proposals also include the fast tracking of any channels carried over IPTV, adding to the ‘net neutrality’ debate, and ensuring local TV channels would not be disadvantaged.

The regulator was responding to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt, who has made the launch of local TV a key element of government media policy. Ofcom had been ask to assess what changes in regulation might be needed for the launch of local TV.

By giving the channels must carry designation on all platforms that achieve sufficient reach the channels would be able to receive favourable carriage terms, potentially removing them altogether. One remaining issue could be the positioning on the first place of the various EPGs. Ofcom suggests that new legislation could be needed, something the regulator says would require careful consideration, and would have to take in developments in technology.

Ofcom has said the UK DTT platform is likely to prove a more feasible means to provide local television services in the UK than the amendment of the existing public service licences.