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Hunt to unveil plan for local TV ‘spine’

Plans for a national TV channel which would host a series of regional services are set to be unveiled today.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to see a network of up to 60 local TV stations replacing ITV regional news, some of them run by local newspaper groups.

Before Christmas, government adviser Nicholas Shott recommended the creation of a new channel funded mainly by national advertising which could host local services.

In a speech today, Mr Hunt is set to accept the proposal for a local TV ‘spine’ which would be 51pc owned by the local providers.

Mr Hunt will publish an Action Plan For Local Media at the Oxford Media Convention and invite firms to register their interest in running the channel, which will carry local news and content, by 1 March.

He will say: “For consumers, what this will mean is a new channel dedicated to the provision of local news and content.”

Opinions differ as to how many local TV channels may ultimately emerged from the process.

Mr Hunt wants a network of up to 60 stations, but in his report, Mr Shott said the idea was only likely to be viable in the 10-12 biggest conurbations.

Last week Steve Hughes, managing editor of The Press, York, revealed he had been in discussions about establishing a local TV station on his patch.