When ITV (LSE: ITV) finally exits the local TV news market in 2012, as the draft Digital Britain report has hinted, it could take a mosaic of new news providers to replace its nations-and-regions bulletins. One company already pitching for the rights to broadcast local news, online and on TV, is Bob Geldof’s Ten Alps web video house, better known for its network of profession-based web TV channels including Teachers’ TV and a controversial contract to run Kent County Council’s online TV channel. Geldof wants the contract to run a new service in Northern Ireland, with a long-term aim of taking it to other parts of the UK.
Geldof tells FT.com of his plans for a “very, very local” network of reporters, working in partnership with local newspapers, whose reports will run on Channel 3 as well via a 24-hour online news service. “I am absolutely missionary about web TV and now [Ten Alps] are the Pearl and Dean of web TV,” he says. Existing players may want to counter-bid Geldof’s offer — but the Irishman has other ideas (via FT.com): “Tendering out to the usual suspects just simply isn’t going to work. In the age of the internet, the notion of television itself is as archaic as the word wireless – even if that has been reinvented for the digital age.
Ofcom has given the green light to ITV shutting off its daily local news bulletins after 2012, allowing it to become a purely commercial broadcaster and saving it upwards of £50 million a year. In Scotland, STV has invited a consortium to join it. GMG has proposed a north-of-England pilot. In Wales, S4C has proposed a pilot under which it would produce news for ITV Wales (thereby threatning the long relationship under which its own news is supplied by BBC Wales). ITN is interested, too. But, in some regions there are thought to be groups who see the opportunity to do something interactive that goes beyond linear TV.