09.53 Europe/London, July 19, 2011 By Julian Clover

Geographic interleaved DTT spectrum, managed by a new licensed multiplex company, will be allocated for local TV in the UK. The announcement from culture secretary Jeremy Hunt puts an end to earlier plans to create a ‘national spine’ to support the fledgling plans. However, the new proposals do not rule out the possibility of local operations working together.

The multiplex company will be obliged to build and operate the necessary multiplexes to carry separately licensed local TV services. The number of services will be governed by a combination of available spectrum and commercial sustainability. The communications and media regulator Ofcom will handle the licensing process.

The DCMS says it will secure a prominent position for the new stations, though the body that allocates channel numbers on Freeview summarily ignored earlier plans. In April DMOL announced it was reserving space in the 200s, rather than the mooted Channel 6, already occupied by ITV2.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said that providing new TV services offered “great scope to contribute to growth in our creative industries, develop local journalism and help bring communities together around a shared voice.”

£25 million has been set aside from the television licence fee to fund infrastructure costs.

A list of locations indicating spectrum coverage and potential local TV areas will be released in due course.