Cardiff and Swansea to get local TV within two years

Cardiff and Swansea are to receive their own local TV stations within two years, the UK government has announced.

The cities feature in a list which includes 15 venues in England, two in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland.

Mold, Flintshire, and Bangor, Gwynedd, are among 14 areas identified for future licensing.

Critics have questioned the need for more stations, while the UK government has said there is a "real demand" for more local programming.

The BBC has agreed to put £40m to start up the projects across the UK but advertising is likely to fund the services.

Services will include news, current affairs and entertainment and companies will be asked to bid for local TV licences by next year.

Some critics have claimed there is no need for more channels and have warned they will not be commercially viable.

Ofcom, which is to launch a consultation, said its choices were based on technical feasibility and interest.

UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Local TV will be a fundamental change in broadcasting in this country, meeting a real demand for local news and content."

Earlier this year, Mr Hunt said he was confident there would be enough interest to sustain a network of local TV stations across Wales.

After hosting a Newport summit to explain how local TV could benefit communities, Mr Hunt told BBC Wales: "People are absolutely passionate about their local communities, and frankly this has been one of the big gaps.

"We have very popular local radio stations, local newspapers, but this is a multi-media age and it's crazy that we can have local information on our iPods but not on our TVs.

"Everywhere I've been there is a lot of enthusiasm, and I'm pretty confident we will have some very good people putting forward for the new licences."

At the time he said some local TV stations could broadcast in Welsh but he did rule out statutory obligations to do so.

The first 'pioneer' areas include Belfast, Brighton and Hove, Glasgow, Grimsby, London, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.

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