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Welcome to your not-so-local TV station
HEREFORD could one day have its own “local” television channel – but viewers will be hard pressed to find it.
Communications regulator Ofcom has confirmed this week that Hereford and Gloucester are to merge to form one single local TV licence.
But any future channel will take Gloucester’s name as current policy states that the bigger city will have preference in the naming rights.
Ofcom spokesman Chris Wynn said the two locations share “sufficient cultural similarities and coverage overlaps” and that, by merging the two cities, the licensed services will be more viable.
He added that Ofcom’s policy is to name coverage areas after the principal conurbation in the area, which means that it will be referred to as Gloucester.
Local TV was the brainchild of former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. He said in 2011 that the initiative would offer communities a “new voice” and provide local perspectives directly relevant to them.
The plan proposed broadcasting the channels on digital terrestrial television (DTT) and displaying them prominently on the electronic programme guide (EPG).
A total of 19 local TV stations were up and running by the end of last year following the completion of the first round of local TV licensing.
But Ofcom invited expressions of interest in 30 further areas that the multiplex license applicant, Comux UK, had committed to cover. Hereford fell into this category and Ofcom received two responses from potential licence applicants – but both preferred merging the city’s provision with Gloucester for economic reasons.
The news over the name of the proposed station was met with a mixed responsefrom people in Hereford this week.
“If it’s just called Gloucester, Hereford might not be mentioned at all, which is a bit unfair,” said Ebony Corrick, aged 19.
“People will also just think that Gloucester news will be featured.”
Caroline Aston, who works in retail, said Hereford should also be in any title in order to attract more visitors.
But Tomasz Kaminski, 35, did not object to the Gloucester name because he thinks that it will be another way for people to get their local news.
Josh McIntyre, 20, was also more optimistic, saying the proposal could be good for both Hereford and Gloucester.
Following consultation in June, Ofcom received a small number of requests to consider merging the two cities into one channel.
It said that it received two responses from potential licence applicants, with one of the respondents being in support of merging the two areas.
The other potential licence applicant, the Triple Broadcasting Co, also argued for merging the two areas – and wanted to add Malvern into the patch, too.
Talks will now be held to see whether the Gloucester and Hereford area can be merged with Malvern before any decision is made on the chosen applicant.
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