Leeds local TV decision and #1000 flowers event

made-in-leeds-tvSo Leeds is to get its own TV station as part of the “biggest shake-up of British television since the advent of satellite TV“.

In case you missed, Ofcom this week awarded the local TV franchise licence for Leeds to Chapeltown-based Made in Leeds TV.

The new station will launch in November, airing on Freeview Channel 8 as well as on cable, covering over 1.1 million people across the city and the wider region, including Wakefield, Dewsbury, Halifax and Huddersfield.

The station will broadcast an ‘eclectic’ array of new shows dedicated to the city, with local news and current affairs at the top of the agenda. Programmes on arts and culture, entertainment, music, sport, property and cookery are all currently in development. Check out Made In Leeds’ bid to Ofcom in full.

I should declare an interest right now – I took a lead role in putting together the ‘news’ part of the bid (building on work started by my former Guardian Local editor Sarah Hartley) and I’m listed in the bid as ‘news editor’.

Station Head Isi Abebe said:

“We’re delighted to have been awarded the licence to run this service, and even more excited for the future. Our bid could not have been successful without the support of our partners: Leeds Metropolitan University, Trinity Leeds, The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds Civic Trust, Leeds Community Foundation, and many other groups who strive tirelessly to make this city what it is, and whose work Made In Leeds will celebrate and promote.”

Abebe says work has been ongoing for over 18 months to put together a team, to develop programming proposals, and establish local partnerships. He adds:

“Made In Leeds is going to raise the bar in this great city, giving people a bold new platform to share their stories, learn about one another, show off their talent and their potential. The hard work starts now.”

Made In Leeds is part of Made Television Ltd, a network of stations which will also be overseeing stations in Bristol, Cardiff and Tyne & Wear. On its website it describes itself as:

“The mirror that reflects the local zeitgeist”

CEO Jamie Conway said:

“Leeds is an exciting, dynamic city which has an abundance of talent and potential, and the opportunity to have a Freeview TV channel dedicated to the city is long overdue.  Add to that our plans to deliver content and interaction across tablets, mobiles, IPTV and VOD services as well as our second-screen strategies, and we’re confident that the people of Leeds will be engaging with us as soon as we launch.

“The race to run local television stations in 19 of the country’s largest conurbations is the biggest shake-up of British television since the advent of satellite TV.”

You can check out Ofcom’s reasons for choosing Made In Leeds above four other competitors – including one backed by Leeds United.

It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on the other bids here, but as Abebe pointed out speaking on Radio Aire this week, Made was long considered an underdog in the process. Radio Aire’s a news partner for the channel, by the way.

So, a new station, a new source of focussed news, information and debate on Leeds is coming soon to your screens, tackling a democratic and social deficit in local reporting. What’s not to like, right?

Well, some are sceptical. Some rightly point out there are still more questions than answers – this post by Trinity University lecturer Richard Horsman for Culture Vulture raises some interesting issues.

I noted with interest John Popham’s comment that TV the wrong (‘dated’) medium (I did try to respond to some of the points in the comments section, but when I pressed ‘send’ my comment it just disappeared and I’d lost the will to live to type it all out again!)

All I’ll say at this very early stage is that not everyone’s able to access the internet and the aim for Made in Leeds is to be multi-platform, including online, mobile and tablet.

Besides, it’s not the platform that’s the issue for me. It’s how we make local news RELEVANT and ENGAGING to people who maybe don’t care any more. That’s key. The actual platform plays a part – but the main issue is relevance of content.

For too long people in Leeds have been served news that’s been neither relevant or engaging. They’ve seen mainstream media withdraw from their communities as the crisis in print media deepens. The BBC’s blocked from going really local through conditions in its licence and the issues facing ITV are well documented.

Creating content that re-engages people who’ve lost faith and interest is the main challenge any new news organisation faces.

I’m sure more will be made public on what to expect from Leeds TV in the coming months. Perhaps the channel should be judged when it’s up and running and established. Exciting times though, eh? And good to see people engaging and discussing ‘Local’ again.

The full list of contracts awarded by Ofcom to date can be found here.

Let me point you in the direction of an event that ties in with all this:

Jamie Conway, the CEO of MadeTelevision, winner of the OfCom Local TV licence for Newcastle and Leeds will be in conversation with David Hayward of the BBC College of Journalism at #1000flowers in Newcastle on Tuesday, 5 March.

The event spiel says:

#1000flowers is for those that believe that the Digital Revolution is turning our world upside down – particularly in the field of Local TV.

It is for those that share the belief of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt that the winning platforms of the future will be ‘local, social and mobile…’

It is an afternoon to celebrate some gloriously dissenting voices – as well as to engage in a serious debate as just how we can make a new, local media landscape work if we believe our futures are not going to be tied to a printing press, a telegraph pole and a TV transmitter mast.

And for those whose futures are, what are they about to offer the world of Local TV in the UK?

More details about #1000flowers and bookings. Cost of admission is £25.

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One comment

  1. I’m so pleased to see that my home city is getting it’s own TV station, though I am gutted that I won’t be able to pick it up over here in Liverpool! Good luck to everyone involved 😀

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