Sanity or vanity? That was the question posed at a special Yorkshire Centre event in November which considered the future of local TV.
Held as part of Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism Week, the event brought together Dave McCormack, Chief Operating Officer of the Made TV Group which has four of the local TV licences including Made in Leeds; Matt Freckelton, Managing Director of Hello York the York Local TV station due to launch next year; Chris Johnson, chair of the Local TV Network; and Martin Corrigan, Investment Director of global media agency Mediacom.
Made in Leeds was celebrating its first anniversary and McCormack said he had always believed in its success. “It hasn’t been easy. We have had to rejig the business model and try a fresh approach, but if local TV is going to work it has to be financially viable,” he said.
It was a point echoed by Freckelton who said Hello York has learned valuable lessons by learning from the experience and mistakes of existing channels. “It’s got to work as a business commercially,” he said.
Johnson told the largely student audience that local TV channels could offer opportunities for aspiring journalists and presenters. He said that as a budding young reporter he had sent in stories to his local newspaper – and now local TV channels could provide the same springboard.
“Local TV is making history,” Johnson added, “and this is something Britain should have had for the last 40 years.”
But the one point all four speakers agreed on was that while financial viability is important, it is content that would prove critical. If local stations offered a unique and different type of programming, they argued, the viewers would tune in and local TV would prosper.