BBC to buy £15m of local tv content

BBC regional tv staff

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The BBC will buy up to £5 million of content per year from external local tv services in the three financial years between April 2013 and March 2017.

As part of the 2010 licence fee settlement, the corporation agreed to provide £40m for the creation of a 'new generation' of local tv services - an initiative championed by the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The sum will be split into £25m from the BBC Trust for infrastructure and £15m from the BBC Executive for content.

From today, media regulator Ofcom are inviting applications from local tv companies to broadcast in 21 locations across the UK. They will award the licences this autumn but the BBC will not be involved in their selection.

UK cities getting local TV

  • Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow, Grimsby
  • Leeds, Liverpool, London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • Plymouth, Preston
  • Sheffield, Southampton, Swansea

In the first year, starting next April, each successful applicant will be expected to provide the BBC with a maximum of 125 stories per month for an income of £150,000.

In the second year, the BBC will buy around 50 stories a month for £60,000, and then 20 stories a month for £20,000 in the third year. BBC funding for local tv services will end in March 2017.

The corporation says it will select material 'if it is suitable for inclusion' in their output and according to value for money. They will also have third-party exclusivity in the UK for content they broadcast.

Independent producers were critical of some of the plans at a recent media conference in Liverpool, where annual estimates for a local tv company's costs ranged from £500,000 to £2m.

In addition to the initial roll-out to 21 locations, local tv is also expected to be rolled out to another 44 cities or towns in the following years.

The BBC will run sessions for potential licensees in Birmingham on May 25th and in Manchester on June 6th. Possible bidders, who wish to attend one of the sessions, should register interest with gail.mccullagh@bbc.co.uk.

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