Six local TV stations have been allowed to cut back on their local news and current affairs programming after requests to Ofcom.
The media regulator announced today that TV stations in Southampton, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle had been given permission to change the number of hours of local programming.
Ofcom said it had agreed to the requests, which it “considers will not substantially alter the character of these services.”
TV stations allowed to cut their local programming include four Made TV channels in Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Tyne & Wear, along with That’s Solent and NvTV in Belfast.
The Made in Tyne & Wear station will cut down its local programming from its approved licence of 45 hours per week in year 2 and 52 hours a week in year 3 to 37 hours a week for both years.
It will also cut the number of repeats of such programmes and cut the peak-time local programming, between 6pm and 10.30pm, from 22 hours a week to 14 hours a week.
In considering the request, Ofcom’s Broadcast Licensing Committee said: “After careful deliberation, the BLC considered that the character of the service overall would be maintained following the requested variations, particularly in view of the following factors: that the number of hours of first run local programming and the number of hours of first run local programming hours in peak-time would continue to be delivered at a level that is only slightly lower than the existing year 1 commitment levels and that overall, the changes to first run hours would be proportionally small compared to the existing high levels.
Taking these factors into account the BLC decided that the requested variations would not amount to a departure from the character of the service as originally proposed and to consent to the variation request.”
Similar reductions in local programming have also been approved at the other Made TV stations in Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol.
At the Belfast channel, its requirement to broadcast headline local news bulletins six times a day Monday to Saturday has been cut and it will now broadcast local news twice a day – but this will increase in the second and third years of broadcasting.
That’s Solent will cut its hours of local programming in peak-time from 21 a week to 18 and cut its requirement to run at least 40 minutes of coverage of the local voluntary sector each week.