Will anyone watch local TV?

When I was a child I often spent holidays in the North East of Scotland where I was able to watch Grampian TV. Grampian’s local programming, presented by the marvellously named Jimmy Spankie, seemed to consist of little more than playground gossip. There simply wasn’t enough actual news being generated in that part of the world to fill up all the current affairs programmes which ITV stations were obliged to produce in those days.

In a few weeks time a number of new local TV channels will begin broadcasting on Freeview  (channel 8 in most areas) and other platforms in a number of cities around the UK. This does raise the question of whether or not these stations will be able to find enough local news to keep viewers interested. This surely provides an opportunity for local councils, NHS Trusts and community groups to highlight their work and give their senior people some valuable broadcast interview experience.

One station which I’ll have a particular interest in will be Glasgow which is being run by STV in co-operation with my old college Glasgow Caledonian University. The station will give students on journalism and media production courses a chance to work on real programmes for a real audience. It’s a brave move and I wish it well.

In London, the licence has gone to the owners of the Evening Standard and The Independent. The ambitious plan is to have at least five hours of local news programming daily.

It will be interesting to see how these local stations progress. Those of us who work in public sector communications have an obligation to provide these fledgling stations with story ideas and to try to facilitate their programming. Surely it is in everyone’s interest to avoid the parochialism of Grampian TV in the days of Jimmy Spankie?  S


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