The UK is set to launch a national network of local TV stations run on the US affiliate model and broadcast on a Free To Air (FTA) digital terrestrial slot. It will be run by Local Television Network (LTVN), whose chairman Nigel Dacre bullishly predicted that it would change the British media landscape by providing a source of popular local programming appealing to the populations of big cities as well as rural communities, with attractive advertising slots for businesses in each area. Dacre outlined his vision of how local TV will affect the wider media industry at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival 2013, now that 19 TV licenses for local stations have been awarded.
"Over the next 2 years we will see a whole host of new Local TV stations launching and operating in major towns and cities around the country,” said Dacre. “Each will have its own high-profile slot of the Freeview EPG. Currently 19 stations are due to launch, but within a couple of years that number is predicted to more than double. Local businesses will also have access, in many locations for the first time, to an attractively-priced local TV advertising network.”
The new network will run alongside the established broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, with the business model dependent on its having national coverage. It is similar to the U.S. system in being a national broadcast network integrated with local affiliates, with each of which it can enter joint ventures and receive a share of the advertising revenue in return. But a difference is that the network enjoys public funding to get started, with £25 million from the license fee in 2013-14 for up to 20 local TV services and up to £5m per year for ongoing funding for three years to acquire local TV content.