A network of local TV channels serving eight of the UK’s main cities is claiming it now has a bigger audience than regional newspapers circulating in the same areas.
The Local TV network – chaired by former Local World boss David Montgomery – claimed a record 5.3m viewers in June, contrasting this in a press release with what it called the “ongoing decline of daily regional newspapers.”
But Reach plc, which owns the main newspaper titles in seven of the eight cities in question – has accused the network of ignoring its online readership.
It hit back by claiming a regional digital reach more than five times that of the TV channels’ stated combined audience.
Local TV, the new trading name of Made Television Ltd., operates eight local TV channels in England and Wales – Birmingham TV, Bristol TV, Cardiff TV, Leeds TV, Liverpool TV, North Wales TV, Teesside TV and Tyne & Wear TV.
It rebranded from Made Television, comprising Made in Bristol, Cardiff and so on, to Local TV in late 2018 and broadcasts on Channel 7 of Freeview.
In the release, issued yesterday, it claimed that the overall audience for the network hit 5.3m in June and that the average daily reach of Birmingham TV, Bristol TV, Leeds TV, Liverpool TV and Tyne and Wear TV “continues to surpass the equivalent local daily newspaper circulation” in each of those areas.
It claims this means it is now able to offer “much better value” for advertisers than the print publishers.
David, pictured, said: “Now that Local TV has accurate audience figures we challenge the regional daily newspapers to upgrade their circulation reporting to monthly as their current reporting is always seven or eight months out of date.
“Our main competitor in the print market is seeing yearly circulation falling at a rate of 15 per cent. In Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Newcastle our Local TV channels give much better value for advertisers”.
But Reach, which publishes print titles together with companion websites in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool, North Wales, Teesside and Tyne and Wear, as well as a standalone website in Leeds, said Local TV was itself behind the times in not taking into account online audiences.
It claimed a total readership in May for its regional digital brands as measured by ComScore of 28.58m.
A Reach spokesperson said: “We cover dozens of local areas which Local TV and other competitors don’t, which is one of the many reasons advertisers love working with us.
“Local TV also seem slightly behind the times in a constant attempt to omit any mention of our online readership in their reporting.
“Any serious player in the media knows that the massive and growing power of online readership can’t be ignored, whether you’re talking about London or Liverpool.
“Our total monthly digital readership in May was 39.85 million, and even if we remove our national titles from that number our regional digital reach was still a whopping 28.58 million.”