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Sky: Local TV channel demotion

by RXTV-newsdesk
Local TV Sky

A service carrying programmes from local TV channels across England and Wales will be demoted down Sky’s channel list this month.

Local TV in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, and Tyne & Wear will move to a single UK-wide slot on Sky channel 195. As a result, it will become the lowest ranking channel in the general entertainment section of Sky’s channel list.

The channel currently broadcasts on Sky channel 117 in some regions. It’s due to move down to channel 195 on 20th October.

One channel, multiple labels

The demotion follows a technical change to the service. For nearly four years, six local channels have shared a single satellite feed with multiple labels.

Five local channels have broadcast ‘in label only’ since the beginning of 2018. Instead, the feed carrying the Cardiff service became a sustaining feed for all services, with a loop of local programmes from all the local channels in the early evening. This single feed is currently attached to multiple channel labels. In practice, this led to viewers watching in Birmingham seeing the channel labelled as ‘Birmingham TV’ on the Sky channel list. The same channel is labelled ‘Liverpool TV’ in the North West and so on.

The separate labelling, which secured the service an ongoing prominent position on Sky’s EPG, is being removed. As a result, the service will no longer count as a simulcast of a Freeview local channel. It will also be unlinked from local programme commitments that continue to apply to its Freeview outlets.

Local channels were entitled to a prominent channel slot on Sky due to Ofcom rules, backed by the Government. The Government legislated for the creation of local channels during the 2010-15 coalition. In addition to a top 10 slot on Freeview, Sky’s listing rules allow simulcasts of a local channel on Freeview to launch on channel 117 (134 in Wales). Only a few local services took up carriage on Sky.

For most of the day and from 8pm in the evening, the Local TV channels re-broadcast CBS Reality.

Local TV Limited v Local Television Limited

The affected Local TV services are operated by Local TV Limited. It’s part of Montgomery Media, the media organisation owned by former News of the World editor David Montgomery. Local TV Limited is not to be confused with Local Television Limited, the company behind the “That’s TV” chain of local channels. That’s TV already separately operates a national version of its service on Sky, called That’s TV Gold. It is broadly the same as the local channels, but without local news bulletins.

London unaffected

London Live, which broadcasts in the London TV region on Sky channel 117, is under different ownership and completely unaffected.

Local TV Limited’s move will however leave Sky channel 117 vacated in the rest of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, BBC Alba uses the slot.

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