So today the government is to announce plans to run a series of pilot schemes that will see up to 20 towns and cities with local TV stations.
UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has questioned why local television could work in Birmingham, Alabama but not Birmingham in the West Midlands. Now this textural soundbite may sound great, (he’s picked two places with the same name, did you see what he did there) but in reality is this another example of an American concept that works for them but simply wont work over here.
American local TV according to the recent BBC website news report is ‘Brash’, ‘Energetic’ and ‘Over the top’, doesn’t sound like our sort of thing surely, well perhaps it could be. We have for years been swooned over how Americans do things, their food, their comedies, their films, their attractions and cities, and the list goes on. One thing that many people can’t deny is that their TV stations are atrocious, programmes are littered with ad breaks, and presenters are often caught waffling and incoherent by British TV standards.
So if their TV stations aren’t that great why would something like that work over here. Well after my weekend covering the Muff March in Harley Street I have come to see where the local TV roving reporter could come into their own. I think its obvious many of the large TV News stations in the UK are only interested in the large stories, the Muff March which was a protest march against female genital mutilation just wouldn’t have made the ITV London Tonight news, not sexy enough, no coppers duffing up protestors, no celebrities opening envelopes.
Can this idea from across the pond work for us, I think the answer could be yes. If we are able to maintain the our news casting integrity and not succumb to the glitz and glamour that American culture so wonderfully encapsulates. Would it enrich our towns and cities, again I think the answer is yes, allowing smaller grassroots projects and stories to make it to a wider audience.
However I feel that for this to be a success it must be afforded the freedom to operate in its own way, Local TV will never be able to compete on the big news stories with the big boys of TV news media, but where they could excel is on local stories as the name suggests, eventually they could take on regional news, which often comes across as an underinflated version of the national news, especially here in London.