The government minister who spearheaded the plan for a network of Local TV stations has launched a robust defence of the initiative.
As culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt oversaw the plan to establish up to 60 new hyperlocal TV services, of which four have so far launched.
Now he has attacked the national media of writing off the new stations as “local yokels” and described critics of the idea as “bonkers.”
His comments, reported in the Financial Times today, came at a lunch with political journalists at Westminster.
Mr Hunt, who is now health secretary, said: “There is a great desire in the Westminster media world to write off ‘local yokel stations.
“If New York can manage six local TV stations the idea that London cannot sustain one is bonkers, despite the desire of competitors to rubbish it.”
Local TV has been promised £40m of public funding top-sliced from the BBC licence fee.
So far four channels have been launched, covering Norwich, Nottingham, Grimsby and London, all available on Freeview Channel 8.
Mr Hunt defended the project but conceded there would be some failures.
“All these local TV stations will be a success,” he said, before adding: “There will be some that go bust; that is the nature of things.”