Local TV Event at the Screen School

Delegates from across the UK came together at the Liverpool Screen School recently to discuss and debate the opportunities and the impact that the newly-formed UK local TV network offers.

‘Getting the Picture: opportunities in local TV’ was the third event that the Screen School has hosted on this subject, since Jeremy Hunt (then Culture Secretary) announced the local TV initiative last year, with 19 channels now awarded across the UK – including Bay TV’s Liverpool channel – and the deadline for bid submission for a further 30 licences coincided with last week’s event.

Building on the success of the previous local TV-focused events at the Screen School, the day brought together high-profile speakers from across the UK TV and media industries who each gave their perspectives on a range of issues, including creating, commissioning and supplying content; potential for advertising revenue and commissioning; and exploring models of collaboration and partnership for commercial and social benefit.

In his keynote address, Ed Hall, Chief Executive of Comux UK – the company awarded the Multiplex licence to establish the infrastructure that will underpin the network – revealed their plans for the community-owned transmission infrastructure, both the technical, and the promotional aspects and associated opportunities for revenue-generation for licensees.

Further sessions included a focus on advertising, and its potential for revenue – both for licensees and for independent producers – presented by Neil Mortensen, Director of Planning and Research at Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial TV in the UK.

Matt Locke, Director of Storythings, whose previous roles have included Head of Mult-iplatform Commissioning at Channel 4 and Head of Innovation for BBC New Media, discussed Social TV, with a particular focus on attention, behaviours, and circulation. Matt’s thoughts around content were complemented by Professor Dennis Kehoe, Chief Executive of AIMES Grid Services Ltd (a partner in the successful Bay TV bid for the Liverpool licence), who discussed the technical aspects of multi-platform delivery, including the challenges of scalable streaming, and business and distribution challenges and opportunities.

Having looked at the opportunities for licensees and content providers, the focus of the event then shifted to social responsibility and the opportunities for communities – one of the key questions for OFCOM in awarding the licences. Kerry Traynor, a PhD student at the Institute of Cultural Capital (co-sponsor of the event), presented her initial findings around the impact of media on local civic engagement, including social, cultural and economic benefits, and Kerry’s presentation was followed by Lia Nici, Executive Producer, Channel 7 and Lincolnshire Living, who shared with delegates her experience of managing the UK’s longest-running local television station, Channel 7 in North Lincolnshire.

Although a national event, it was fitting that the day should close with Bay TV Liverpool’s Chris Kerr and Chris Johnson, who discussed their vision for the new Liverpool TV channel – their collaborative approach to programming, to make Bay TV a real voice for Liverpool.

In addition to the above sessions, delegates were given new product highlights from Avid (co-sponsor of the event) and a tour of the new HD TV studios in the Redmonds Building. The TV studios at the Redmonds Building are available for commercial hire, and many delegates took this opportunity to view the equipment and facilities and discuss hire options.

Commenting on the day, and on the Screen School’s engagement with the local TV agenda, Oli Bird, Head of Local TV Licensing at OFCOM said:

“It was a very interesting set of presentations and we found it helpful to have the opportunity to make contact with different stakeholders in a single day, so long may your local TV conferences continue!”

Judith Jones, Director of the Liverpool Screen School, commented:

“I am delighted that the Screen School has been able to continue its successful involvement in providing a forum for debate about Local TV and I believe that is a tangible example of our engagement with our civic and social responsibilities. The range of expert speakers and number of delegates who attended the event is testament to the interest in the development of Local TV in the UK and we look forward to working directly with the successful bidder for the Liverpool licence, Bay TV.”

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