Claire Enders, founder of media consultancy Enders Analysis, has attacked assertions made by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt that the regional broadcasters should be released from their commitment to offer regional news in the wake of plans for a new local TV service.
Hunt has announced that a new local TV channel will be launched which will allow cities and towns to create their own local TV services. In view of this he told the Oxford Media Convention, that he is now 'relaxed' about what happens to existing regional news services.
According to The Guardian he said: “When we have this structure in place I will be very relaxed as to what happens to regional news.”
He went on to say that regional TV only existed in its current form because it happened to be the model that was created in the 1950s when ITV was launched in the UK; and that model of regional TV franchises was the reason local TV has never taken root in the UK.
ITV has contended that its regional news service is not financially viable. Employing 500 it loses around £50m a year according to some.
But Claire Enders suggested that Hunt's analysis does not fully take into account the regional and national dynamics of the UK: “I am very concerned about how relaxed he is prepared to be. He is not understanding that there will be a deficit at regional level that cannot be filled by his local plans as they don't deliver ubiquitous coverage."
Referring specifically to regions such as Scotland and Wales she said his plans, “could potentially lead to the BBC having a monopoly of regional news.”