Open letter to Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP

(The template of this letter was provided by Phil Shepherd, Chair of the Community Media Association and Director of Somerset Film & Video)

To:

Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP
Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport
Department for Culture Media & Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH

Dear Mr Burnham

I write on behalf of Firstborn Creatives, a community based media education organisation in Bristol, in support of the United for Local Television (ULTV) proposals advocating the universal availability of public service local television.

We are aware that the future shape of public service broadcasting (PSB) in Britain is now at a crucial stage and that a local television network, on seventh mux spectrum in Scotland and on  Channel 6 on Freeview in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is now being seriously considered as a PSB provider.  We welcome this idea reservedly.

We recognise that a universally accessible service is not something that can be achieved now or in the foreseeable future on broadband alone.  An accessible terrestrial Local TV network of 50-80 + stations will be truly local and universal and will create hundreds of jobs all over the country. We are after all one of the few countries in Europe not to already have such a network in place.

ULTV have identified a number of  ‘models’ for running each local public service broadcasting station, dependent on local preferences and funding. Some will involve local authorities; some may not.  The business models exist to make this work.

 We are aware that the future shape of public service broadcasting (PSB) in Britain is now at a crucial stage and that a local television network, on seventh mux spectrum in Scotland and on  Channel 6 on Freeview in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is now being seriously considered as a PSB provider.  We welcome this idea reservedly.

 We recognise that a universally accessible service is not something that can be achieved now or in the foreseeable future on broadband alone.  An accessible terrestrial Local TV network of 50-80 + stations will be truly local and universal and will create hundreds of jobs all over the country. We are after all one of the few countries in Europe not to already have such a network in place.

ULTV have identified a number of  ‘models’ for running each local public service broadcasting station, dependent on local preferences and funding. Some will involve local authorities; some may not.  The business models exist to make this work.

 All over the UK numerous community media groups make engaging, popular programmes for which there are almost no broadcast outlets, particularly since the demise of regional ITV.  Local TV would change that frustrating scenario which does so much to hold back creativity, community empowerment and mutual understanding.

Local TV can offer:
*  creative content from diverse marginalised and hard to reach communities
*  extensive access to content from the voluntary sector through local partnership working
*  a grass roots shop-window to promote government initiatives
*  access for viewers to a network of participation and engagement
*  signposts for viewers to informal learning opportunities

We understand that spectrum could be released for a Local TV network, that technically it is entirely feasible. We support ULTV¹s assertion that the opportunity cost that might be seen as “lost” by gifting spectrum to Local TV, would be more than compensated for by the social gains to be generated from such a service.  The Public Voice coalition has evidenced this claim in some detail.

We know that ULTV have held positive talks with local newspaper groups and with the BBC.  We believe that Local TV can play a vital role in a new, strategic pattern for regional media, indeed that Local TV can be a key player in local public service broadcasting.

We believe in summary that building on the great success of community radio, Local TV is vital to the future of local democracy.

We thank you for your support for Local TV to date and would urge you to seize this opportunity to bring it to reality, as an all win for the future health of our nations and regions.

Yours sincerely

Shawn Sobers 

Firstborn Creatives
Easton Community Centre
Brstol, BS5 6AW
www.firstborn-creatives.co.uk

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2 thoughts on “Open letter to Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP

  1. All I can say is: “hear hear!”

    I have worked in community media for many years. I can attest to the power that creative co-operative activity has, to transform and develop the individuals that perform it, and to empower and enrich the communities that learn to mediate themselves…

    May this beautiful, rational dream come true!

  2. Hi Govinda, thanks for passing by and leaving a beautiful comment!

    Keep the fire burning comrade. 😉

    Shawn

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