Local TV licence awards: Belfast and Sheffield

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Two community television services are set to launch after being awarded licences by broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

The licences, which are part of Ofcom’s new local TV licencing programme, are for digital terrestrial TV (DTT) channels in Belfast and Sheffield.

They have been awarded to the long-running Northern Visions (NVTV) in Belfast, and Sheffield Local Television, a community-led consortium. Both operators have fought off competition from commercial sector bidders to win their licences.

The awards follow new legislation enabling Ofcom to issue local TV licences. The channels will broadcast on a specific ‘multiplex,’ a discrete amount of spectrum reserved for local TV broadcasting on DTT, which is better known by its marketing name Freeview.

Licences are awarded for a period of up to 12 years. It is hoped that some channels may be on air before the end of 2013.

In May 2012, Ofcom invited applications to run local TV services in 21 local areas. In total, 57 applications were received to run the local TV services, along with 4 applications for the local multiplex.

As well as broadcasting on DTT, it is anticipated that local TV channels might also wish to offer their services on satellite, cable and online.

Ofcom has now awarded eight local TV licences, and will make further licence awards in the coming months.

A statement setting out the main reasons for the award of the local TV licences referred to above will be published in due course.

Updated 10/10/2012 to correct description of Sheffield Local TV

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