The much-vaunted rollout of local TV across the UK appears to have been halted after the broadcast regulator scrapped plans to award new local TV licences in 13 towns ancd cities.
Ofcom has decided not to pursue attempts to find licence holders for possible new TV stations in the areas following a public consultation.
As a result, it will not advertise licences for potential channels in Bangor, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Stratford-upon-Avon, Barnstaple, Limavady, Derry/Londonderry, Inverness, Luton, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Gloucester or the Forth Valley.
The decision releases Comux, which operates the transmission infrastructure for local TV, from its obligation to build new masts that would have been needed to support services in these particular locations.
The locations affected were among 47 specified in an initial commitment by Comux to the local television project, which was launched during Jeremy Hunt’s tenure as Culture Secretary in 2012.
In a report confirming its decision, Ofcom stated: “Having considered all the consultation responses, we confirm our provisional decision.
“The consultation has confirmed that continuing to require the extension of the local TV transmission network to these locations or substitute areas, as previously planned, would have an adverse impact on the economic viability of the local TV sector.
“This decision will release Comux, the party responsible for providing the transmission infrastructure for local TV, from its current obligation to build the transmission infrastructure in these locations.”