The starting gun has been fired in the race to find a new champion of local television for Britain’s second city.
Administrators have been called in following the collapse of Birmingham licence holder City TV’s after its failure to raise the cash to get the project off the ground.
City TV, also trading as Birmingham Local TV Ltd (BLTV), saw off competition from four other highly-fancied bidders to win the local TV licence – with a November 6 deadline for launching.
But the appointment of Matt Ingram and John Whitfield, partners in the Birmingham office of Duff & Phelps as joint administrators, ended weeks of speculation surrounding the deafening silence from City TV – whose bid was led by former Birmingham City Council’s £120,000-a-year spin doctor.
Duff & Phelps, who admitted that City TV did not have studio premises or broadcast equipment because of its financial problems, said the company was unable to secure the necessary funding to get the project off the ground, despite having demonstrating a comprehensive programming proposal.
“We are aware of considerable interest from a number of local television operators in continuing with the Birmingham area opportunity. We are already engaging with them, and Ofcom, to secure a successful transfer of the licence,” said Mr Ingram.
BLTV was scheduled to fill the vacant Channel 8 slot on Freeview.
As reported on HTFP last week, other interested parties include the That’s Media group – already awarded licences for Oxford, the Solent, Basingstoke, Reading, Surrey and Salisbury – fronted by former That’s Life presenter and ChildLine found Esther Rantzen.
Another expected frontrunner now is Made TV – chaired by former BSkyB executive Ian West with former Emap chief executive Tom Moloney as a director – whose bid was spearheaded by former Dudley Herald journalist and ex-managing director of Manchester United TV, Peter Brookes.
Others originally after the Birmingham jewel in the local licence crown included former Central head of sport Gary Newbon, part of a consortium behind YourTV.
City TV had planned to transmit 35 hours of news per week, alongside arts and sport programmes.
Ofcom has so far awarded 30 licences, with services in Glasgow, Grimsby, Nottingham, Norwich and London on air. Brighton is due to launch later this month.