Local TV: Bidding begins for 21 new licenses

BBC TV The local channels are expected to go on air next summer

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Media regulator Ofcom has opened up bidding for operators to set up their own local TV services across the UK.

The new network will see up to 21 US-style local TV stations in areas including Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London.

The service will be available to all terrestrial viewers and may also be offered on satellite, cable and online.

Ofcom said it will decide on successful applicants this autumn, with the new channels expected to launch next year.

Licences will be awarded based on a set of criteria including the provision of local news and current affairs, programme proposals, launch date and commercial viability.

The 21 areas Ofcom have selected for local TV are: Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool and London.

Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton and Swansea will also benefit from the service.

The areas were selected for having sufficient levels of interest from potential operators and being technically capable of receiving a local TV service.

The BBC Trust also published the final details of its funding contribution for the network.

As part of the current licence fee settlement, the BBC agreed to contribute up to £25 million for the successful bidder to build the network.

"I hope to see some really exciting bids for new local TV channels," UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

"Local TV will not only create jobs but it will also provide communities with news and content that is relevant to their daily lives."

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