Over 40 companies looking to launch local TV services in the UK have written to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt asking him to reconsider plans to force them to use a single multiplex operator.
The letter is supported by Martin Campbell, until recently a senior executive at Ofcom, and now chair of the Broadcast Journalism Training Council. Other signatories include Kcom (the communications company in Hull), the University of Lincoln and the UK’s oldest local TV channel, Channel 7 in Grimsby.
The operator of Muxco is yet to be determined, though as the UK’s principal transmission provider, Arqiva would be the obvious choice.
Muxco would own the equipment and retain the revenues from selling any spare capacity on a local multiplex beyond a single local TV service.
Jaqui Devereux from United for Local Television (ULTV), the industry association, said: “All of the signatories to this letter support the broad thrust of the government’s local TV policy but are asking for a rethink on Muxco. Many of the smaller companies we represent feel most strongly because they know Muxco will have little reason to want to spend time and money to offer good coverage outside of big cities.”
There are also concerns that plans to use the QPSK 2/3 coding rate, outside of the Freeview-compliant D-Book, will also hit the reception chances of the news stations.
ULTV claims DTT transmission equipment is inexpensive and the £25 million in BBC funding secured by the government would be better used to establish a start-up fund, administered by Ofcom, to support local TV on multiple platforms.