LOCAL TV – CITY TV BIRMINGHAM
New Opportunities For Local Business
Here at Slinky, we recently caught up with Debra Davis – Director of City TV in Birmingham – to discuss what the recently-awarded local TV channel will bring to the city, and to the people and businesses within it .
City TV expects to launch in the first part of 2014 – with advance programming to be made available on-line from November 2013.
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How did City TV come about and what has been your involvement?
Local television is really about local identity.
It is about the team that has come together and the vision we have for local television in Birmingham. Everyone who is part of the City TV brings a lot of experience to the table. Individually we are all creative, have varying experiences in broadcasting, production, music, communications, marketing, business and public affairs.
And across the UK there are very many like-minded people who all have worked towards developing their respective visions for local television.
Local television has a very vibrant and extensive broadcast history in North America. It’s about the place where you live; about local sports, local entertainment, local news and current affairs, what’s happening on your street or in your neighbourhood. It’s about being close to television and TV being close to you.
I was born and raised in Montreal where there was a lot of French programming and a lot of American programming on television. It was important that the Anglophones in Montreal and certainly Canadians – in relation to the US – had information about their locality. So by the time I was ten years old I inherently understood local – what was going on in Montreal.
Local television in the UK has been at a disadvantage. Transmission costs have been unaffordable, equipment expensive and there has been a media stranglehold in favour of public broadcasting commitments. The UK is a small country with a very large population. Its broadcast geography has concentrated on national and controlled regional output.
All that has changed.
City TV Broadcasting models itself after Citytv in Toronto which started in 1972 by Canadian media guru Moses Znaimer. It was fast, dynamic, accessible, fun and local. Alan Grindley founded City TV Broadcasting Ltd when he moved to Birmingham in 2007. He had met Moses in Toronto in 1990 and was inspired by his vision for local television.
As a result Alan started three cable stations in Hampshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire in the 1990s. Since 2007 when Alan and I moved to Birmingham, Alan generated interest and enthusiasm from like-minded creative people about the potential for local television. In 2010 I joined the team to lead on the business front after I left Birmingham City Council as the Director of Public Affairs & Communications.
What opportunities does City TV offer local businesses?
City TV will be covering news and current affairs in Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley. Our coverage will include hyper-local content from 40 wards in Birmingham, from each of the constituencies in and around Birmingham and content from the general footprint of the Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.
The mapping also covers the geography of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group which is highly supportive of the need for extending local media and local programming. Among other leading business organisations, they would be an ideal source of business news for the station.
There are two major opportunities for businesses; the first is editorial content and the second is advertising.
Editorial: News & Current Affairs
In addition to general interest news and features, we will be broadcasting a daily 30-minute business news show that is repeated two or three times in a 24-hour period.
It is early days yet, but we will also be looking at producing a range of programmes with independent producers that could include business topics or features around legal issues, finance, consumer affairs, architecture, arts and culture, new technologies – all which have a significant impact on the local economy.
As the channel grows and commercial/sponsorship opportunities permitting, the channel can create specials around Award Shows – or feature shows supported by business. Corporate social responsibility is thriving in the private sector – and very many of the larger businesses in Birmingham support one, two or three good causes. Those good causes may also make interesting TV viewing.
Programming can be of varying lengths to be included in magazine-style shows, as video features for on-air discussions or as 3-minute vignettes, for instance. In large part these types of shows and features will rely heavily on sponsorship or be commissioned as part of our Advertiser-Funded Programming initiative branded to suit the advertiser.
City TV is a commercial enterprise. It will rely on advertising, sponsorship, product placement and several other critical revenue streams. While advertising is a cost to businesses, it is also an important opportunity to let consumers and other businesses know that you exist, what special offers are available, what products and services companies are promoting and reinforces your organisation’s local brand and identity.
The success of City TV will be directly related to the number of people who watch our channel because of the engaging programming – and the number of advertisers who want to reach those viewers in an affordable way.
What are the benefits of advertising with City TV rather than national channels?
Local TV is all about affordability, producing creative campaigns that are affordable for varying budgets. There are two parts: creating a 10-sec, 15-sec, or 30-sec commercial that captures the attention and retention of viewers and makes the commercial memorable. Then there is the buying of time to show that commercial (or series of commercials over time). Campaigns can be created and tailored with budgets, from £500 to £2000 a month for example.
Local radio is seen to be struggling, how do you fit in with local radio?
Radio and television are different mediums with different audiences at different times of the day. I would like to think that there are opportunities for cross promotion and that local radio owners and local television licensees should be able to collaborate where possible – especially on the news gathering and presenting side.
On average people in the UK watch 4 hours of television a day. The whole idea that television is visual offers a different opportunity – showing a restaurant or chefs in the kitchen rather than describing it for example. Again I think it’s about building affordable advertising campaigns.
What does Channel 8 on Freeview mean and what are its benefits?
Local television will be on Freeview Channel 8 in England and Freeview Channel 45 in Scotland and Wales.
Channel 8 is a very high EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) number regulated by government agencies. With the move to digital and the increase in number of channels being high on the EPG is very important. Viewers will not have to search far if they are flipping through channels on the remote control. The benefits are clearly evident: more people will tune into a channel high on the EPG rather than those channels that are much lower down in the hundreds.
In England, local television will be on the channel close to BBC 3 and ITV 3. So Channel 8 in Manchester will be Your TV. Channel 8 in Norwich will be Mustard TV. Channel 8 in Nottingham will be Notts TV. And Channel 8 in Birmingham will be City TV.
Some of the larger cities may also choose to broadcast their programming on Sky and Virgin – financial considerations permitting. All L-DTPS licensees expect to make their programming available with mobile apps and on-line.
When will City TV be going on-air?
Comux UK is responsible for setting up the engineering and infrastructure for local television. They are designing antennae to go on existing transmission towers and hope to complete that work by the end of the year. Only then can any of the channels go live.