Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt must have just awoken from a 20 year coma. His plans for ‘local’ broadcast TV, seem totally at odds with today’s media landscape where narrow casting is already established via Internet TV and is already going ‘mobile’.
Today’s media savvy generation can access relatively low cost production equipment and have their video content online, in a variety of formats, in hours or sometimes in an instant. You need look no further than YouTube.
Most small towns can no longer support a local newspaper. The demand simply isn’t there – news is already instant on the net. The big local advertisers, estate agents and car sales, have moved online. Classified ads have been usurped by e-bay and others. Dating is web-wide and the core of many social networks. Recruitment is better served by the web. What is left for local TV?
Hunt compares the UK to the USA – the difference is that the US was doing ‘local’ TV thirty or more years ago – before the Internet was born. However, in the USA there is decline as the web takes over.
Perhaps the key is in Hunt’s belief that local TV would help ‘strengthen local democracy’. This could be decoded to – ‘provide another channel by which local authorities can tell you what a good job they are doing, even when they are not’. Don’t believe me? Well does your town hall produce a local magazine full of propaganda while the local paper has ceased to publish and therefore few question what the local politicians and civil servants are up to? Ours does and it is not alone.
The best chance for democracy is to leave local publishing and TV to the internet generation who will create far more questioning content than the establishment.