Local Television – it’s Jeremy Hunt’s “baby” and it looks like it is actually going to happen, with Ofcom currently considering applications for both the programme providers and the multiplex operator, while those in the media bubble such as the Radio 4 Media Show get into the repeated comparison of Birmingham UK and USA, here in the Greater Manchester area we where one of the places doing local television for many many years before it became Hunt’s pet project.
Channel M was one of the handful of ‘Television RSL’s’ which came to life at the end of the 90’s under ITC regulation. Back in those days low powered analogue transmissions where to all intents a road to nowhere – how many people in those days ‘retuned’ their tvs? Only a few years earlier Channel 5 spent millions on an exercise of getting people to tune in to their new service.
Channel M, with the backing of GMG did invest huge sums in the Channel M project, with in later years carriage on Sky, Cable and being the first local operator of a digital terrestrial multiplex – a.k.a. ‘freeview’ service – in the ‘interleaved’ spectrum that they successfully bid for. Not to mention in the ‘glory days’ a big local news presence and high visibility home in the Urbis in Manchester City Centre.
So we move on to the crux of this piece, a while back now I was in Oldham town centre to watch the Olympic Torch Relay come through the town. There was a couple of camera crews filming the event – just ahead of the actual torch contingent, one of the guys with the crew was encouraging the crowd to cheer for the camera. Now this footage may or may not have made it to the BBC coverage of the event, but the most interesting thing I over heard from a group stood near me was:
“Oh is it Channel M ?”
These people where obviously well aware that Channel M sent crews out to film local events, or rather that should read Channel M “used to”, by this time not only had Channel M been closed down for several months, it had even longer “scaled back” operations and wasn’t doing any ‘news’ or new original programming.
These people where obviously well aware of what Channel M used to do – but obviously never actually watched the service as they were blissfully unaware the station had shut down. These are probably just the type of person who thinks that ‘local tv is a good idea’ if asked but don’t actually watch.
Photo Credits: “Radio Tower” by Phil Edmonds
“Channel M Logo” by Channel M