Channel 6 pledges to create 2,000 jobs

By Andrew Laughlin,

Channel 6 has claimed that it will create more than 2,000 UK jobs if it is selected to deliver the government's proposed new national channel for providing local services.

The organisation, led by former Trinity Mirror executive Richard Horwood, recently submitted a bid to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to take on the new channel, which would have a national schedule with local opt outs.

Under the Channel 6 proposal, which is backed Scottish broadcaster STV, the local TV channel would launch on Freeview, satellite and cable in early 2013, backed by a network of up to 39 local affiliates.

By 2016, the channel would cover around 80% of UK housholds on Freeview, along with 11.5m homes via satellite (Freesat and Sky), and 3.5m homes over Virgin Media's cable TV network - totalling some 92% of the country. It would also be broadcast online via IPTV.

Horwood, the chief executive of Channel 6, said that the channel would create "a brand-new, profitable, dynamic creative industry around local TV", leading to the creation of around 2,000 direct and indirect jobs, of which 70% would be outside of London.

"The national backbone Channel 6 will be a major new national commercial TV channel, set up with the sole purpose of supporting our network of 39 new affiliate local services, not a rejigging of an existing channel," he said.

"With the support of the national network and our local partners, each of our 39 local affiliates will be a profitable business in its own right, and will serve as a hub for original local programming. In total the affiliates will be producing more than 9,000 hours of original local programming a year by 2017, both in-house and commissioned."

Channel 6 claims that the proposed channel would have a programme budget bigger than Channel 5 and spend roughly the same amount per viewer as BBC Two. The organisation has also partnered with universities and colleges around the UK to tap into emerging media talent.

Horwood said that each local affiliate connected with the channel would create third-party jobs in areas such as sales, marketing, support and production. Local business would also benefit from "an affordable and cost-effective opportunity to harness the unique power of broadcast TV to engage directly with their customers".

"Our close collaboration with existing local media businesses will help protect the future of jobs in local journalism, which continues to face an array of unprecedented economic challenges," said Horwood.

"Channel 6 is more than a vision. It is supported by a detailed and fully costed business plan developed by the Channel 6 management team in collaboration with ITN Consulting.

He added: "The team is made up of highly experienced broadcasting and communications professionals, including some of the UK's pioneers in local television, digital terrestrial broadcasting, online media and broadband networks, all united by a passion for creating successful new media businesses."

However, Channel 6 faces tough competition for the local TV channel from more than 30 other bidders, including Greg Dyke's Local TV Network and a proposal from Channel 4.