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10/01/2002

ITC PUBLISH LOCAL TELEVISION CONSULTATION

AS part of their continued commitment to local television, the ITC have concluded, on the basis of their recent consultation on local television services, that the existing 'light touch' approach is appropriate to the current market conditions.
This conclusion follows detailed consideration of the responses to the consultation paper issued in July 2001 and reflects the ITC's concern about the economic difficulties being experienced currently by a number of licensees.
The ITC are also conscious that digital planning is incomplete and are aware of the prospect for significant debate about the future of local television when the Communications Bill is published this year. It will, in that context, encourage government to think positively about the longer-term future of local television services. Progress will depend on a place being found for local television services in digital planning beyond analogue switchover, and on an appropriate regime being provided in forthcoming legislation.
These considerations have led the ITC to conclude that they would be appropriate to defer, for the time being, implementation of substantial changes in the way local television services are licensed and regulated. The changes would have resulted in the introduction of two types of licence; one on a ‘not for profit’ basis and one for business propositions, which would have required the licensee to meet a minimum requirement of local programming.
However, to ensure that restricted service licensees continue to provide a local focus for the community in which they are based, the ITC will clarify their expectations for potential applicants as the current licences come up for readvertisement this year. The successful licensee will be expected to affirm their commitment to local content and/or community based services.
To reflect the local nature of the Restricted Service Licence (RSL), the ITC will in future refer to these services as local television services. (CD)

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