Some local TV channels are now showing as little as 15 minutes of local news each day, as services use their prime channel slot to screen music videos for most of the day.
That’s TV, which operates 20 local services across the UK, has made further changes to its schedule following lockdown. Viewers in locations including Aberdeen, Basingstoke, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Manchester and York can now see nearly 18 hours of music videos from the 1970s and 80s every day on their local TV channel. Local news takes up a 15 minute slot at 6pm; additionally some music programming contains local information around the edges of the screen.
The network of local stations is assigned a prime top 10 Freeview channel slot in return for its local public broadcasting commitments, such as providing local news and current affairs programmes, as part of an original plan to roll-out local TV across the UK by former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Depending on location, local TV services can be found on either Freeview channel 7 or 8.
Last year, broadcast regulator Ofcom permitted That’s TV to standardise its regional quotas and to close most of its local studios in order to allow it to launch a new networked schedule and produce local news from regional hubs. Ofcom subsequently indicated that it expected local TV services to maintain a minimum one hour of local news each day. At the beginning of the lockdown, Ofcom allowed broadcasters flexibility with regards their programme commitments to deal with the pandemic situation. Earlier in the lockdown, That’s TV also screened a short ‘have your say’ programme after the local news, which has also been replaced by music. Other local TV channels, such as Nottingham’s Notts TV and Brighton’s Latest TV are still maintaining full length news programmes and including local magazine programmes in their schedule.
Previously, That’s TV networked the CBS Reality channel, with local news shown in a loop during the early evening. Music videos are now being shown through the afternoon into the night, except for 15 minutes for the news. Teleshopping channel TJC is shown for six hours each morning.