So the Culture Secretary is unveiling plans for a new digital terrestrial TV channel today that promises to deliver a mix of national and local news content to viewers across the country.
The Guardian reports how Hunt hopes this channel’s approach will make it attractive to advertisers and enable viewers to “opt-out” of nation-wide programmes to see local services instead.
Sound interesting? Perhaps, but I’m not convinced for a few reasons.
I’m a Freeview fan and, while I don’t have the extensive list of channels that Sky may offer, surely I have more than plenty so I can find something I want to watch?
And I’m happy to admit to the mild addition of my digital TV recorder, so the whole concept of “opting out” of a channel to go somewhere else for content (as Hunt suggests) seems a little passé. I’ve usually got around 100 hours of programmes nicely stored on the hard disk drive that I can “opt out” of live TV to watch whenever I want.
What’s in it for me?
But the primary reason for my scepticism is because, at the moment, I’m just not quite sure what the promise of a “new voice for local communities with local perspectives” actually means. How local is “local” Jeremy Hunt?
I tune in for the national news on most evenings, but I’m poised to change channels when London Tonight or BBC London comes on; it’s not exactly essential viewing for someone who lives in a small village in rural Surrey and works 20 miles outside of London. But that’s what I get for where I live.
If Hunt’s new channel is able to serve up news about the six burglaries that happened within four miles of my house last week, or tell me why the post office in our neighbouring village is cutting its hours then I could be a convert. Until then, I’ll continue to use my most reliable source of local information; a visit to the local pub….